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USF College of Marine Science gifted $3 million endowment

An estate gift from longtime donor Anne Von Rosenstiel will be split between two funds established with her husband to help fund graduate research on physical, chemical, geological and biological oceanography. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

Anne Von Rosenstiel was a regular at the USF College of Marine Science’s research laboratories. Frequently visiting the students whose research she aided with donations throughout the years at the college’s laboratories, her legacy will continue on with the latest $3 million donation made in her name Jan. 25.

Von Rosenstiel’s endowment will be split between two funds established with her husband, Werner Von Rosenstiel — the Anne and Werner Von Rosenstiel Fellowship in Marine Science, which funds graduate research on ocean and atmospheric systems, and the Von Rosenstiel Innovation Fund for Marine Science, which grants seed money to help graduate students develop initial research for potentially larger projects.

“[Anne is] self-effacing,” said founding dean of the USF College of Marine Science Peter Betzer. “She didn’t really care about having her name on something. But she agreed to that.”

The gift will make the college’s programs more competitive with its increased amount of funds, attracting innovative researchers from across the globe, according to Kristen Kusek, director of strategic communications at the College of Marine Science. 

“This incredibly generous gift allows us to continue to sharpen our competitive edge and continue to attract top-notch graduate students to our program without having to rely on more traditional funding streams from state and federal sources,” said Kusek.

Enrolling innovative researchers from across the globe has always been an aim of the college, which currently houses students from 11 different countries, according to Betzer. He agreed that this donation will effectively draw more students to the college’s programs.

“This puts us in a position to compete effectively with other institutions for the best young scientific minds,” said Betzer. “We recruit people from all over.”

Distribution of the fellowship fund will be awarded to three to four graduate students from each subject area — physical, chemical, geological and biological oceanography — who will be selected each year by a panel to have their research funded.

“What’s really exciting about [this], is some of these things that they try out are going to be really great, will really be big deals and will allow them to actually see support for their research,” said Betzer. “It is an unbelievable thing, it really is. I was at [the College of Marine Science] for 37 years — [I’ve seen] nothing like this.”

The rest of the endowment will be put toward the innovation fund, helping test-drive more ideas from the college’s students to see if they have the potential to expand into something greater.

“Having some seed money … to try out things, whether it might be to buy some chemicals that are expensive. It might be to do some analyses of some samples that you got, like from the Gulf of Mexico after the oil spill. There’s a whole host of things that it could be used for,” said Betzer “It could even be used to try to do a distinctive outreach for education.”

The late Von Rosenstiels left behind a legacy of generosity to the USF community through their 30 years of contributions to marine science research and education at the university. Their first donation included helping establish a federal laboratory in St. Pete in the late 1980s. 

Anne also contributed to the foundation for the ongoing Oceanography Camp for Girls, a three-week program hosted by the college that teaches young women in Pinellas County about ocean science.

“The College of Marine Science would not be as firmly planted on the global ocean research stage without their consistent, and consistently generous, support through the years,” said Kusek.

“We are humbled by their philanthropy and the raw, goodwill that motivated their support and are committed to ensuring the Von Rosenstiel legacy lives on.”