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Ohio State receives $20 million gift for space discovery

COLUMBUS – The Ohio State University has received a transformational gift of $20 million to support one of the biggest undertakings imaginable: the exploration of outer space. The anonymous gift is the second-largest single gift to the university in its 137-year history. In addition to unprecedented studies of our universe, it will support the mentoring of young minds and major collaborations on promising research projects.

"We always encourage our talented faculty and students to 'reach for the stars,' and this incredible act of generosity will allow them to do just that," said Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee. "This extraordinary gift will make it possible to explore some of the biggest mysteries of our universe, and the discoveries that result will be enormous. They may even help us to understand the very nature of our existence."

The exceptional gift will fund student fellowships and two faculty chairs that honor two men known for their inspirational fascination with discovery and exploration. Faculty chairs provide salary and/or research support for a designated faculty member and help to recruit and retain the most brilliant minds in a given field, while student fellowships encourage studies by talented students who represent the future of intellectual discovery.

--The John Glenn Chair will support a faculty member in Ohio State's College of Engineering working on propulsion technologies for orbital payload delivery, interplanetary transport, and power systems for space travel or for moon or planetary bases.

--The Thomas Jefferson Chair will support a professor in Ohio State's College of Mathematical and Physical Sciences studying grand-scale space exploration within the Center for Cosmology and Astro-Particle Physics or within the Planetary Studies Initiative. Specifically, their work will concentrate on the search for extra-solar planets with the potential to support life.

--The gift will also create the Space Exploration Research Fund, which will provide fellowships to support exciting and promising research by students studying science or allied fields for the furtherance of space exploration. Under the mentorship of the professors recruited to occupy the John Glenn and Thomas Jefferson chairs, many of the Space Exploration fellowship recipients will write theses and publish scholarly papers. Additionally, in keeping with President Jefferson and Senator Glenn's strong commitment to public service, the Jefferson and Glenn chair-holders will be encouraged to mentor a student or postdoctoral researcher in Ohio State's John Glenn School of Public Affairs.

The John Glenn and Thomas Jefferson chairs and the Space Exploration Research Fund will be funded by endowments that support a specific cause in perpetuity. The initial capital of an endowment gift is invested by the Office of the Treasurer as part of the University Endowment Fund, and the annual distribution is then allocated according to the donor's specifications. For more information on endowments, visit www.treasurer.ohio-state.edu.