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Endowment to boost gulf studies
A&M-CC's Harte Research Institute gets $1.5 million gift

By Adriana Garza
Corpus Christi Caller-Times

July 25, 2007
 
Mexican and Cuban scientists studying the Gulf of Mexico and its ecosystems will have the opportunity to research in Corpus Christi because of a $1.5 million endowment to the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies.

The Harte Research Institute, part of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, received the endowment from philanthropist and former Caller-Times Publisher Ed Harte and the local Hornblower family. The endowment will help fund teaching and research fellowships for guest scientists from Mexico and Cuba studying at the institute.

Harte said the program will foster cooperation among marine scientists in the nations around the Gulf of Mexico.

"None of the science institutes from the United States, Cuba and Mexico can make much difference operating (alone), but together all three countries can address the critical problems related to the gulf and together seek appropriate solutions," he said in a press release.

The fellowships provided by the endowment will be named for institute director Robert Furgason, who is retiring at the end of the year.

"We wanted to name it for Dr. Furgason because of his superb direction of the institute during the first years of its life," Harte said. Harte previously donated a $46 million endowment to fund the institute that bears his name and opened in 2005.

Furgason said having a working relationship among the three countries is crucial because of their shared interest in the gulf..

"If you think about it, marine life doesn't know Mexico from the U.S. and Cuba," Furgason said. "Every country that borders the gulf has a major role in how marine life ecosystems thrive or don't in the Gulf of Mexico."

Jonathan Hornblower, a trustee of the Harte Support Foundation, said the gift from his family's estate will help differentiate the institute from other marine biology programs.

"We're interested in making the Harte Research Institute a tri-nationally focused effort with Cuban and Mexican scientists to help focus the science on maintaining the gulf," Hornblower said.

An endowment is a financial gift or donation that is invested to generate income. The principal of an endowment remains intact, while the income it generates is used to provide scholarship and fellowship opportunities.

Two post-doctoral students from Mexico are among about 25 students researching at the institute. Furgason said the new fellowships will help the institute reach out to universities, organizations and agencies in Mexico and Cuba to recruit prospective researchers.

There won't be a formal application process; instead institute and university officials will solicit scientists from the two countries to study at the Harte Research Institute.

University officials expect to recruit several scientists by 2008.

"These generous fellowships from the Harte and Hornblower families are a major step forward in our goal to erase all boundaries and work together to better manage this vital asset for today and tomorrow," said A&M-Corpus Christi President Flavius Killebrew in a prepared statement.

Jaime Powell contributed to this report. Contact Adriana Garza at 886-3618 or garzaa@caller.com



Source: Corpus Christi Caller-Times