The gift will support programs and collaborative research in environmental science and policy. An undisclosed part of the gift will further three institute programs: environmental venture projects, which provide seed money for promising research initiatives difficult to fund through traditional sources; strategic collaborations; and environmental management and leadership. In recognition of the gift, the institute will be renamed the Ward W. and Priscilla B. Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University.
Considered the cornerstone of the campus-wide Initiative for Environmental Sustainability, the institute will focus on freshwater resources, energy and climate systems, land use and conservation, and oceans and estuaries. The initiative, which was launched in 2004, promotes an environmentally sustainable world by working at the intersection of traditional disciplines and attracting faculty and students from every school, laboratory, and institute on campus. "The Woods's gift will enable the institute to work on a broader set of issues and with more groups around the world," said Barton H. Thompson Jr., institute co-director and professor of natural resources law.
Ward Woods ('64), the retired president and CEO of Bessemer Securities, is a member of the university's board of trustees and the chair of the Stanford Management Company's board of directors. In addition, he serves as a trustee and chairman of the executive committee of the Bronx, New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society and as a director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Priscilla Woods, a clinical social worker, serves on the boards of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation and Citizens for Smart Growth in Idaho.
"Solving the world's urgent environmental problems takes bold ideas from leaders and experts in many fields and involves collaboration of researchers from diverse disciplines," said Ward Woods. "Most of all, it takes a conviction that these problems are largely solvable and a tough-minded commitment to seeking the solutions that gain traction in the real world. Stanford's pre-eminence as a research university and history of multi-disciplinary cooperation provide the best academic combination for addressing these problems."