A significant gift of $1,000,000 made through the generosity of Billy and Brenda Watterson to the University of Findlay’s Environment, Health, Safety, and Sustainability (EHSS) Program, was announced Friday, Oct. 8.
Billy Watterson, CEO of Watterson Brands, said, “Brenda and I and are honored to make this investment in the EHSS program. Our goal is to provide future students access to modernized infrastructure, tools and resources to build their own foundation, find purpose, and ultimately make a difference in this world.”
Mr. Watterson, a University of Findlay trustee and successful entrepreneur, graduated from UF in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Safety and Occupational Health Management. “I’m so grateful to have been afforded the chance to build a strong foundation provided through the EHSS program at the University of Findlay,” he stated. “I owe much of my success and the ability to live out my dreams to the infrastructure, knowledge, and tools provided during my time at Findlay.”
He has remained an active alumnus both in and out of the classroom, serving as a mentor and speaking at various University events including Fridays at Findlay. In 2013 he established a scholarship fund for EHSS students; later he also created a fund for students providing service abroad, and received the University’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2014.
“The University of Findlay is honored to receive such a wonderful gift from the Wattersons, that will have such a positive and far-reaching impact,” said UF President Katherine Fell, Ph.D. “In addition to their financial generosity, Billy and Brenda have been involved in providing leadership to our institution, and we are most grateful for their efforts.”
This gift will directly impact students in the University’s EHSS Program by updating and expanding the program’s academic spaces. “Billy and Brenda have huge hearts for helping others, as is evidenced by this very generous gift,” said Marcia Sloan Latta, Ed.D., vice president of University Advancement. “They know that the University’s EHSS program not only impacts the students enrolled in that major, but the alumni of the program take positions that influence the health and safety of all employees in the organizations for which they work, and to increase sustainability efforts.”
The current home of the EHSS program is in the University’s Brewer Science Hall, which was constructed in 1961. The space has served the program well, but is in need of renovation in order to adjust to industry changes and to provide flexible learning spaces for students. This approximately 5,600-square foot addition and 2,880-square foot renovation will be designed to increase innovation and meaningful interdisciplinary STEM collaboration, both of which are critical components in preparing students for careers in the wide variety of fields that EHSS graduates enter.
For more than 30 years, the EHSS Program at Findlay has educated environment, health, and safety professionals who have gone on to improve day-to-day lives of people across the country. Students in the EHSS program gain the knowledge to be successful in any part of the industry, as evidenced by the 100% job placement rate, and are able to gain hands-on experience at the University’s very unique All Hazards Training Center, which is the nation’s leader in the development and delivery of customized environmental, health, and safety training programs. In this growing industry, jobs are available in the public, private, and government sectors and qualified individuals are highly sought after. On average, students graduate with four job offers and a starting salary of $55,000.
To learn more about the University of Findlay’s EHSS program, visit the Environment, Health, Safety, and Sustainability webpage.