A $1.5 million endowment gift from alumna Marcey Olajos has created the Charles Olajos and Ted Goslow Chair of Environmental Science and Policy for the Southwest at Northern Arizona University.
The chair, to support interdisciplinary work linking scientific research and public policy, will be housed initially in NAU’s College of Engineering, Forestry and Natural Sciences. Tom Sisk, professor of ecology and founder of the university’s Lab of Landscape Ecology and Conservation Biology, is the first holder. It is the sixth endowed chair at NAU.
“The Olajos-Goslow Chair represents the commitment that individuals such as Marcey have to sustainability and policy in the Southwest,” said Paul Jagodzinski, dean of the College of Engineering, Forestry and Natural Sciences. “It also reflects the commitment NAU has to these issues and interests.“
Because of NAU’s significant interest in ecology and sustainability, “people around the country know about us,” Jagodzinski said. “Marcey’s idea is that we’re not just doing academic research on campus, but we’re also informing the public and helping to guide the development of sound policy. Her interests fit very well with the interests of our college.”
Olajos said she feels fortunate in being able to support this position. “It acts as the cornerstone for an important, far-reaching program at NAU,” she said. “In creating this chair, the university will have the opportunity to become a center for research and policy in this geographical area. I have a strong connection to the Colorado Plateau and NAU, so it is very exciting to be part of a program which will enhance both.”
The gift honors Olajos’ father, Charles, and former NAU professor Ted Goslow, remembered by Olajos for his inspired teaching and commitment to students. It will generate about $60,000 a year to support the research, education and outreach. It also will be matched dollar for dollar by the state’s Eminent Scholars Program.
Sisk, noting NAU’s “long history of excellence in ecology and environmental conservation,” said that the endowment will help link those strengths to “new and ongoing efforts to safeguard our land, water, and natural resources during this period of rapid environmental change.”
Olajos, who graduated from NAU with a degree in biology, spent her career in medical research and is active with numerous conservation and education organizations, including the Wyss Foundation, which since 2008, has supported select NAU graduate students through the Wyss Scholars Program for the Conservation of the American West.