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Gift from WVU geology alumni helps create student field experience fund

West Virginia University graduates Pamela (MS ‘88) and Dan (MS ‘89) Billman recently pledged to establish a permanent endowment in support of student field experiences for geology students in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.

This gift will serve as the foundation for the Geology Student Field Experience Campaign, which will allow the department of geology and geography to offer two field trips in the coming year. Kathleen Benison, associate professor of geology, will lead a group to Death Valley to study modern evaporates.

“Field experiences are essential for an understanding of Earth’s processes and environments,” said Tim Carr, WVU’s Marshall Miller professor of geology and the Department chair.

“The experience and comprehension that can be gained through the study of geology in the field is invaluable for science students. Even with modern technology, from satellites to scanning electron microscopes, there are a number of geological aspects that still require first-hand observation.”

Amy Weislogel, assistant geology professor, will lead a group on a study of the sequence stratigraphy of the superb exposures in the Book Cliffs of Utah. The endowment will support additional field experiences for years to come, and offset the loss of state funding that has occurred in recent years.

“As numerous geology departments, across the country, are de-emphasizing fieldwork and field camp, Pam and I are proud that we can help keep the field experience part of the geology program at WVU,” Dan Billman said.

The Billmans’ gift will kick off a campaign to fully fund the Geology Student Field Experience endowment, and opportunities are now available for others to participate. With a goal of $500,000, contributions can be made at a number of levels ranging from Chestnut Ridge ($25-99), to Everest ($50k+).

“As state support continues to decline, philanthropic support is more important than ever. The Billmans’ gift could not have come at a better time. Combined with grassroots support of alumni and friends, this field experience fund has the potential to transform the Geology student experience at WVU in perpetuity,” said Assistant Dean for Development Anna Justice.

For more information on how to make a gift in support of this fund, contact the Eberly College Office of Development at 304-293-4611 or

This contribution was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The $1 billion comprehensive campaign being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December 2017.

For further information on the comprehensive campaign, please visit or