UWM Receives $10 Million Donation for New Great Lakes Research Vessel
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has received a $10 million donation toward construction of a new research vessel intended to help advance the scientific understanding of water and the Great Lakes.
The money from anonymous donors, and given through the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, equals the largest gifts ever received by the school, officials said.
The research vessel, to be called the Maggi Sue at the request of the donors, will cost an estimated $15 million. A capital campaign for the ship includes an additional $5 million for operational costs.
The donation is a major step toward construction of a ship that will expand UWM’s research capabilities on the Great Lakes and provide students more opportunities for onboard study.
University of Wisconsin System officials announced in June that UWM would lead a pilot program, the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin, to connect all UW campuses to freshwater issues, an initiative that will require funding in future state budgets.
UWM’s School of Freshwater Sciences has graduate programs in multiple disciplines and currently, UWM officials say, a curriculum is being designed for a new undergraduate program in freshwater.
A construction start date for the ship has not yet been determined, but university officials said they have received other donations not yet disclosed.
The school is to formally announce the gift Wednesday morning at the School of Freshwater Sciences.
The Maggi Sue would replace UWM’s Neeskay, a 66-year-old Army boat that was purchased by the university in 1970.
University officials have wanted to replace the aging Neeskay for more than a decade.
“I’ll miss her, but nothing lasts forever,” said Val Klump, dean of the School of Freshwater Sciences.
He described the Great Lakes as “one of the world’s great natural resources.” But he said the lakes are also saddled with myriad problems scientists want to study: low oxygen levels that create dead zones in Green Bay; water contamination from runoff and pharmaceutical chemicals; and lake levels that are rising and falling in dramatic fashion.
Klump said early donations have allowed the school to hire a naval architect, Seacraft Design of Sturgeon Bay, to design the ship. While a builder has not yet been identified, Klump said the Maggi Sue will be constructed by a Wisconsin boat builder.
Replacing the aging Neeskay will give UWM a much larger ship and greater flexibility for Great Lakes research, according to school officials.
According to shipbuildinghistory.com, the former Army ship was built in 1953 in New Orleans.
The Neeskay is 71 feet long, has 350 feet square feet of deck space and 120-square feet of lab space and can accommodate 10 students.
The Maggi Sue would be 120 feet, have 2,100 square feet of deck space, 800 square feet of wet and dry labs and could accommodate 24 students.
“The opportunities for education and training are going to greatly increase,” Klump said.
The ship is designed to use interchangeable laboratory pods on the deck to meet different needs of scientists and classes. It will also include a dive locker for underwater research, sensors that can collect data in real time and a navigation system to keep the ship in one place, regardless of weather conditions.
Having a larger ship and other amenities, including sleeping accommodations for a crew of 18, will allow for extended stays and expand research into Lake Huron and Lake Erie, Klump said.
Wednesday’s announcement equals two donations of $10 million each from Sheldon and Marianne Lubar to establish the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center in 2015 and endow professorships and student scholarships at the Lubar School of Business in 2006.
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