In November 2019, the UW-Superior Foundation and the Lake Superior Research Institute (LSRI) announced a new Superior Floating Classroom initiative to re-establish hands-on learning and research aboard a Lake Superior vessel. The project received another major boost recently with a generous $100,000 challenge gift from UWS alumni, Bill and Lynne Rogers.
The Rogers’ gift will be used to match additional contributions up to $100,000, bringing the project closer toward the purchase of the vessel and its educational and conservation mission on the waters of Lake Superior.
The Rogers said their support of this project is an outgrowth of their love for Lake Superior and the significant role it has played in their lives. For years, Bill owned and operated a chandlery business in Superior, providing supplies and equipment for ships arriving and departing from the Superior-Duluth harbor.
“The research and education that LSRI does is so important,” said Bill. “In the 1970s, I worked as a deckhand aboard iron ore ships, and in those days, everything was dumped overboard, even paint and chemicals. I never forgot that, so Lynne and I are passionate about the ballast water research and other conservation and education efforts being done by LSRI and UW-Superior.”
LSRI is in a two-year planning phase for the Superior Floating Classroom which has included convening a boat acquisition advisory committee with members from the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S.DOT Maritime Administration and regional experts.
“We are so grateful for the Rogers support,” said Amy Eliot, LSRI assistant director. “We will use the gift to cover the cost of a proof of concept design and cost estimate for the vessel, which will in turn be used to raise funds for the full construction plans needed to acquire or refurbish a boat. We will also use the funds to hire a program coordinator to assist with developing the education framework for the Superior Floating Classroom.”
LSRI successfully ran the L.L. Smith Jr. research vessel and program from 1978-2012. The new Floating Classroom will be state-of-the-art and will allow for more passengers on board and a formal platform to make the boat available to educators or researchers from any discipline from anywhere around the world.
“We are so excited about the work that LSRI is doing,” said the Rogers. “We can’t wait to see the results of this initiative under the leadership of Matt TenEyck [LSRI director] and Amy Eliot. This will open up the world to the invaluable resource we have in Lake Superior. We hope others will join us in supporting the project.”
People interested in supporting the project and having their contribution matched dollar-for-dollar by the Rogers’ challenge gift, may do so at uwsuper.edu/together or by calling the UW-Superior Foundation at 715-394-8452 .