CORVALLIS, Ore. – An endowed chair in geology is being established at Oregon State University, boosting one of the strongest environmental sciences programs in the world.

Created with a $2 million commitment from Kenneth and Donna Barrow, the Barrow Family Chair in Mineral Resource Geology in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences (CEOAS), will build on the university’s achievements in ore geology, mineralogy, petrology and geochemistry. The faculty member appointed to the chair will lead fundamental and applied research and teaching in mineral resources that address critical mineral needs in our changing economy.

The chair is the largest donor-funded endowed faculty position in the college.

“Ken and Donna have been incredible supporters of earth science and, in particular, experiential learning. They also grasp the importance of faculty excellence and its impact on institutional and student success,” said CEOAS Dean Roberta Marinelli. “This new endowed chair will help secure OSU’s ability to hire top-notch faculty and maintain its high national and international ranking. We are deeply grateful to the Barrows for their vision and investment in OSU.”

Ken Barrow earned his bachelor’s degree in geology from Oregon State in 1977 before continuing his education at Stanford University. In addition to his work as a geologist, he is a co-owner and operator of several business enterprises. An Oregon State University Foundation trustee, Barrow previously served on advisory boards for CEOAS and the college’s geosciences department.

“I attribute much of our good fortune to my geologic training, which was grounded in the exceptional undergraduate education I received at Oregon State University,” Barrow said. “In 2001, the geoscience department offered me a role as an alumni advisor. For 15 years, students most frequently asked me for help connecting to industry to obtain jobs that would fully use their hard-earned OSU degrees. Donna and I hope that this chair will attract a research scientist with strong industry relationships who can both instruct and inspire our students and help them start their post-graduation careers.”

Oregon State University has demonstrated excellence in the earth sciences for more than 100 years. The journal Nature ranked Oregon State 30th among all earth and environmental science programs (including federal agencies as well as universities), 20th among world universities and 16th among U.S. universities. The college is home to one of the nation’s largest archives of sediment cores, which help scientists better understand the past and predict future conditions on the planet. Faculty research spans the breadth of geology and geophysics, from hydrogeology to volcanoes.

Oregon State offers graduate degrees in geology as well as a geology option in its undergraduate earth sciences program, emphasizing field experience for all learners. The Barrows have also established an endowment supporting experience-based learning for all CEOAS students, from sea-going research to class field trips and field excursions.

“Ken is as involved as a trustee as he was as a volunteer alumni advisor all those years ago. I am grateful for his investment of time and experience as we work together to support and advance the university and all it makes possible,” said Shawn L. Scoville, president and CEO of the OSU Foundation. “I am deeply grateful for Ken and Donna’s gift, which will have a profound impact on Oregon State’s geology program for years to come.”

The OSU Foundation

About the OSU Foundation: The Foundation is a nonprofit organization that partners with Oregon State University to engage the OSU community, inspire investment and steward resources to enhance the university’s excellence and impact. Annual fundraising totals have averaged more than $145 million for the last five years, placing the OSU Foundation among top performing like organizations nationally. As of June 30, 2021, the Foundation holds assets surpassing $1 billion, including an endowment of more than $800 million, which supports OSU students, faculty and programs.  

Story By: 

Cathleen Hockman-Wert


Laura Pizzo, [email protected]


Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.