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Oct 20, 2016 03:41 AM EDT

Rowan University Alumni Give $25 Million For School's Fossil Park

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Rowan University has announced that two alumni have donated $25 million for the development of the school's fossil park. The announcement about the multimillion gift was made on Monday.

The Press of Atlantic City reported that Ric and Jean Edelman announced a $25 million gift on Monday to preserve and expand the Rowan University Fossil Park. The park is located in nearby Mantua Township.

The Edelmans' gift is the second-largest in the school's history. It is also the largest amount ever given by alumni to transform STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education through research and innovation at the Fossil Park.

"We want the Fossil Park to be a world-class destination for families on the same scale as the Smithsonian, Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Franklin Institute," Ric Edelman said. "We want our giving to have a measurable impact on people's lives."

As tribute, the park will be renamed the Jean and Ric Edelman Fossil Park at Rowan University. The couple founded Edelman Financial Services in 1987.

In Sep. 2015, Rowan bought the 65-acre quarry owned by Inversand Co. for $1.95 million. The school converted it to a research and education lab for students. The site is home to thousands of 65-million-year-old fossils from the Cretaceous Period.

Paleontologist Ken Lacovara, director of the Fossil Park and dean of the School of Earth and Environment at Rowan University, noted that the park's goal is to provide pathways for children into STEM fields through hands-on activities. "There is a layer we can let visitors collect from that, if they are willing to get a little dirty, they can take a fossil home," he said. "It is transformational."

According to Philly.com, the university's Fossil Park is a renowned site for visiting school groups. Students are allowed to dig up fossils under the supervision of the school's scientists. Ric Edelman expects to enhance that experience with the museum, laboratory spaces, a nature trail and a paleontology-theme playground.

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