The University of Kentucky’s Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences, in partnership with UK alumnus Tom Spalding,  has accepted a $ 600,000 gift from Pioneer Natural Resources Company.

Spalding is vice president of Pioneer, a large independent oil and gas exploration company based in Dallas, with operations in Texas, Colorado, Alaska and South Africa.

Pioneer really went to bat for us.” – David Moecher associate professor and director College of Arts & Sciences

Tom [Spalding] and Pioneer want to make sure that we have faculty in these fundamental fields to maintain a pipeline of future earth scientists.”

The gift, which is intended to be spread over the next three years, will fund the Pioneer Natural Resources Research Professorship in Stratigraphy, as well as a three-year recruiting fellowship, which will be given to freshman Ellen Kaiser this year.

Moecher, who helped facilitate the gift from Pioneer, said that EES hopes to fill the new professor position as early as January. The money will not only support the new faculty member’s research program, but will also fund graduate and undergraduate student research.

“The College [of Arts & Sciences] has been very supportive of the University.

The seeds for this gift were planted six years ago when Spalding, a Kentucky native, approached Moecher about facilitating a relationship between UK and Pioneer.

With my connection to UK and successful recruiting efforts over the last five years, we were able to secure a significant financial gift to UK’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences,” Spalding said.

Moecher believes that alumni relations become increasingly important as money becomes tighter at universities. Because of this, he also believes in preparing students for life outside of college, both as professionals and as alumni.

Following the Pioneer gift presentation in Lexmark Room 209 of the Main Building, the College of Arts & Sciences hosted a Pioneer Natural Resources and alumni reception.