Stokes Gift $2 Million to School of Marine and Environmental Sciences
Posted on March 3, 2023
With a passion for both the environmental beauty of our region and the University of South Alabama, Dr. Steven Stokes and his wife Angelia are providing $2 million to the USA School of Marine and Environmental Sciences. In total, the Stokes have contributed over $6.8 million to the University.
The announcement was made today at the Board of Trustees quarterly meeting, where it passed a resolution naming the School the Angelia and Steven Stokes School of Marine and Environmental Sciences.
“We are confident this will be the premier environmental center on the Gulf Coast. With financial support, Dr. Sean Powers and the outstanding faculty, grad students and undergraduates will continue their vital work.” Dr. Stokes said.
Powers is director of the School and the Angelia and Steven Stokes Endowed Professor in Environmental Resilience. The School, part of the College of Arts and Sciences, opened in the fall 2022.
“Dr. Stokes and Angelia’s many years of service and support for this University is a major reason why we are the Flagship of the Gulf Coast,” said University President Jo Bonner. “This generous gift will go a long way in positioning us as one of the top marine sciences programs in the country.”
Searching for a way to help in recovery following the 2010 BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the Stokes initially funded the Environmental Resiliency Center at South to help preserve the coast and Mobile-Tensaw River Delta from future adverse effects of human activities.
“As population grows along the Gulf Coast there will be continued pressure on our environment,” Stokes said. “Over the years, the Environmental Resiliency Center’s success demonstrated that with additional funding even greater progress could be made.”
The evolution of the Department of Marine Sciences to what is now the Angelia and Steven Stokes School of Marine and Environmental Sciences has resulted in increased research activity. Since 2021, its faculty have received 56 grant awards totaling $16.5 million.
Two undergraduate majors were initiated in the fall 2022 semester. The initial cohort drew 57 students, far exceeding expectations. In addition, the School also offers two master’s degree programs and a doctoral program in marine sciences.
“Without Dr. and Mrs. Stokes’ previous support, I think it’s safe to say that we would have not been able to expand the Department of Marine Sciences,” said Powers. “Their investment over the years has allowed us to invest in faculty, students and equipment that has paid tremendous dividends.”
The new gift will be used to fund an ambitious five-year growth plan that includes new faculty hires and completion of state-of-the-art facilities in the Education and Outreach Building, as well as endow graduate assistantships and the Gulf Scholars Program designed to train and recruit college undergraduates to become the next generation of environmental scientists to study the Gulf and coastal region.
“We all have a vested self-interest in preserving the environment in which we live,” Stokes said. “We have the most beautiful beaches in the world. The Mobile-Tensaw River Delta has been called the American Amazon because of its biodiversity. These are national treasures that must be preserved for now and future generations.”
The Stokes have had a long association with the University. He is a 1980 graduate of the College of Medicine; she received her business degree from South in 1979. He was appointed to the Board of Trustees in 1993, reappointed in 2005 and served as chair pro tempore.
Stokes Hall was named in their honor for their service to the University. He has been presented with the University’s highest honor, the USA National Alumni Distinguished Alumni Award. They have established the Angelia and Steven H. Stokes Center for Creative Writing and supported Moulton Tower and Alumni Plaza, the Mitchell Cancer Institute and the Frederick P. Whiddon College of Medicine.
“My wife and I have been blessed by our association with this great University,” Stokes said.
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