$136K Carver grant will expand WIU-QC science program

Western Illinois University Quad Cities Riverfront campus. CREDIT WESTERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY

Science labs at Western Illinois University’s Quad Cities campus will be upgraded and science offerings expanded through a $136,919 grant awarded by the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, WIU announced Monday, Nov. 21.

With the grant, WIU can upgrade an existing lab on the riverfront campus with the safety equipment, storage capacity and laboratory equipment that will enable the Moline campus to offer WIU’s introductory sequence of Chemistry courses, WIU said in a news release. 

Planning for renovation, scheduling and staffing of the new space is currently underway, the Macomb-based public university said.

The funding will allow WIU-QC to expand science-focused general education offerings at WIU-QC, including prerequisite courses for the majors of Engineering and Civil, Mechanical, and Electrical Engineering. In addition, the funds will be used to buy equipment to support the Ph.D. program in Environmental Science.

“We have known for some time that there is an unmet demand in the Quad Cities area for affordable, high-quality, STEM-focused programs that will provide the sort of skilled labor that area businesses are seeking,” said WIU College of Arts and Sciences Assistant Dean Jim Rabchuk. “We are so excited that the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust has offered this support to expand WIU-QC’s ability to provide STEM-related course offerings and experiences to local students, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels.”

Investment in enhanced science laboratories will expand curriculum and research capabilities within Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Environmental Science programs, the university said.

The Quad Cities region has a critical need for STEM-focused college graduates to meet the needs of the expanding economy, the news release said. In response, WIU-Quad Cities said it is dedicated to ensuring that campus spaces, programs and curriculum align to maximize student opportunities to gain hands-on experiences and prepare students for industry-based careers throughout the region and beyond.

“WIU is grateful to the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust for their generous support of STEM-focused initiatives on the Quad Cities campus,” said Vice President for Quad Cities Campus Operations Kristi Mindrup.

“Western’s enhanced science laboratory capabilities will expand course offerings and programming, establish innovative spaces for applied learning and research and create new educational opportunities for WIU students, area high school students who participate in dual enrollment and our Quad Cities community partners,” she added.

The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust is one of the largest private philanthropic foundations in the state of Iowa with assets of more than $400 million and annual grant distributions of over $16 million. It was created through the will of Mr. Carver, a Muscatine industrialist and philanthropist, who died in 1981.

Since the beginning of its grant-making activities in 1987, more than $400 million has been distributed in the form of some 2,500 individual grants. Biomedical and scientific research; primary, secondary and higher education; and other issues related to the needs of youth are the program areas of greatest interest to the Carver Charitable Trust.

Mr. Carver, a business entrepreneur educated as an engineer, began his career in the late 1930s and 1940s making high quality contractor pumps at the Carver Pump Company in Matherville, Illinois, and later in Muscatine, Iowa. In the early 1950s, he launched Carver Foundry Products to supply the molds for his pump company. Then in the late 1950s and 1960s, he started the Bandag Company in Muscatine, a business that eventually became the world’s largest producer of tire retread materials and equipment for the transportation industry.

Mr. Carver had a lifelong interest in aviation and world travel, and spoke five languages fluently. He was a generous man, always willing to help people in need, according to the trust’s website. He was especially interested in helping young people get a good education, as well as in supporting research activities to advance scientific knowledge and improve human health.

Mr. Carver remained active in his various businesses and philanthropic efforts until his death at the age of 71. His commitment to youth, education and research forms the cornerstones of the Charitable Trust he established to fund these and other interests in perpetuity.

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