$120,000 gift to WKU expected to benefit Geology department

Randy Reynolds reveals the sign for the new geography and geology lab on the third floor of the Environmental Science and Technology Building on Tuesday, February 5. The lab will be used as a research center equipped with geologic software packages designed to teach geography and geology majors how to combine the computer world with the actual world.

Christian Marnon

WKU announced on Feb. 5 that it received a gift of $120,000 from the Richard S. Reynolds Foundation, and the funds will serve to expand the geology program.

Also on Tuesday, representatives from WKU, the Reynolds Foundation and the geology department gathered in the brand-new William G. Reynolds Geological Resources Laboratory to celebrate the donation.

Based in Richmond, Va., the Reynolds Foundation is a private family foundation which provides grants to education, the arts, historical preservation, environmental protection and medical research.

Named in honor of the late William G. Reynolds, who had local business ties in the western Kentucky area, the new laboratory has 20 computer workstations and is one of several planned acquisitions for the geology department.

William Florman, vice president of Reynolds Raw Materials, attended the event and was instrumental in fostering the partnership between WKU and the Reynolds Foundation. He said this is something his grandfather, William G Reynolds, would have approved of.

“I was very excited about this project, because I felt like it was something that would be very beneficial to the area and something that would have interested him,” Florman said in a press release.

Randolph Reynolds, William G. Reynolds’ son and vice president of the Richard S. Reynolds foundation, said his family has been involved in the western Kentucky area for years.

Reynolds, who was born in Kentucky and has lived in Bowling Green since 1958, said his father would have been satisfied with the contribution.

“My father was a big believer in education, who also wanted to develop oil and gas in Kentucky,” he said. “This gift will help to create jobs and develop the area.”

Kenneth Kuehn, department head of Interdisciplinary Studies, said part of the donation will go to purchase PETRA software.

Graduate student Andrew Reeder said this PETRA software is especially important.

“With most universities, geology students see the rocks but don’t really have the computer background,” he said. “The geologic world is moving towards a computer-based system, and PETRA software will allow our students to marry geophysics with computer visualization.”

Reeder also said it would cost about $50,000 to train and use it.

David Keeling, department head of geography and geology, who spoke at the event, expressed other ways the donation will catalyze the geology program.

“The future for us is a bright one,” Keeling said. “This donation is going to help us maximize our energy resources and award our students a competitive edge.”

Keeling also said the gift will further contribute to international outreach for the geology department.

“We pride ourselves on having an international perspective,” he said. “The United States is no longer the global hegemon (leader) in science and technology and consequently, we have to compete.”