$3.1 million gift establishes wetlands chair in Warner College


Each year in Colorado, thousands of recreationists take advantage of the state’s abundant wetlands.

Located within both the Central and Pacific flyways, Colorado is a paradise for hunters and others interested in the preservation of waterfowl habitat and breeding grounds. And, thanks to a $3.1 million gift from James M. Kennedy, Colorado State University will be at the forefront of wetlands and waterfowl conservation in the central U.S.

Kennedy’s generous gift will establish a University Endowed Chair in Wetlands and Waterfowl Conservation in the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology. The gift will enable CSU to build on its decades-long legacy of excellence and prominence in wildlife research and education, and enhance opportunities for outreach throughout the region for the benefit of waterfowl, their habitat and everyone who enjoys them.

James C. Kennedy has endowed two chairs in CSU's Warner College of Natural Resources.
James C. Kennedy has endowed two chairs in CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources.

Colorado, CSU connections

Kennedy has a strong connection to Colorado and CSU.  Early in his career he lived in Grand Junction, where he served as chairman of the Colorado Division of Wildlife Commission and was awarded Sportsman of the Year.  One of his sons is a CSU graduate.

“Colorado is a paradise for anyone who loves the outdoors and for those interested in the preservation of waterfowl habitat,” said Kennedy. “When I lived there I noticed that many of the wildlife professionals came from CSU.  The goal of this gift is to provide opportunities for students and future conservationists. Education is an extremely important tool in managing and conserving Colorado’s natural resources.”

John Hayes, dean of the Warner College of Natural Resources, called the gift “transformational.” The new program will include research, teaching and outreach by the chair and support for undergraduate and graduate students as well as postdoctoral fellows.

“This gift is an incredible show of support from James Kennedy. This investment in our program will enable us to build on our strengths in wildlife ecology and wetland ecosystems with an enhanced focus on health, management, and conservation of waterfowl and their habitats. We can’t thank him enough.” Hayes said.

Unique program in Central Flyway

The comprehensive program will be the first of its kind in the Central Flyway, which stretches from the northernmost parts of Canada, through the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains, and throughout Central America. In filling this critical regional gap, the CSU program will join a group of similar endowed chairs located at universities in other migration corridors around the Country.

The program will make significant strides in addressing critical issues affecting waterfowl and wetlands, including impacts related to water quality and scarcity, and how population growth and urban development influence waterfowl. It will position CSU as a leader in building public awareness of the benefits wetlands provide and will help engender a deeper public appreciation for waterfowl.

Green-Winged Teal Duck swimming Anas carolinensis“This tremendous gift from James Kennedy helps us ensure sustained and positive impact in wetlands and waterfowl conservation. We are so thankful for this partnership,” said Brett Anderson, vice president of University Advancement.

Noreen Walsh, regional director of the Mountain-Prairie Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the position will strengthen state and federal agencies’ ability to effectively manage wildlife and their habitats.

“We are excited about the vision of recruiting a national leader in waterfowl and wetland conservation to develop a robust research program in the Central Flyway,” she said.

Program to debut soon

A nationwide search will begin soon to attract a prominent national leader in the field to CSU in the upcoming academic year. The program will debut in the 2016-17 academic year.

“Mr. Kennedy’s willingness to entrust us with such an incredible opportunity is humbling, and is much appreciated,” added Ken Wilson, chair of the Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology Department. “It will allow our department to build on our strengths in fish, wildlife and conservation education by attracting the future leaders in waterfowl and wetland conservation.”

Kennedy previously endowed a chair in Wildlife Management at CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources. He is an avid outdoorsman and is frequently recognized for his commitment to sustainability and conservation. Kennedy serves as chairman of Cox Enterprises, a leading communications, media and automotive services company.