CHESTERTOWN — Washington College has been awarded $1.25 million in matching funds through the Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative for a $2.5 million endowment supporting a chair for the Natural and Cultural Resource Initiatives under the college’s Center for Environment and Society.

According to a news release, the professorship is part of the college’s new Past is Present initiative, which focuses on environmental archaeology, cultural resource management and the links between heritage and natural resources.

“This is an important step forward in protecting and managing the remarkable natural and cultural resources with which our region is so blessed,” John Seidel, director of the Center for Environment and Society, said in the news release.

He added, “There is a logical, but often unrecognized, alliance between those of us who work in these fields, and this position will build ties and strengthen our collective efforts.”

The MEI is a state program created to spur basic and applied research in scientific and technical fields at colleges and universities.

The funds awarded through MEI are a match to private funds raised by the institutions themselves.

The Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative, created by the General Assembly during the 2014 legislative session, has provided $64.9 million in funding to leverage $71.2 million in private donations, according to the news release.

The funding can be used to pay salaries of newly endowed department chairs, staff and support personnel in designated scientific and technical fields of study; fund related research fellowships for graduate and undergraduate students; and purchase lab equipment and other basic infrastructure and equipment.

“Ecotourism and heritage tourism in particular are powerful economic engines for the Eastern Shore, and we look forward to enhancing the opportunities for communities to benefit from this potential,” Seidel said.

In 2021, the Maryland Department of Commerce joined eight local colleges and universities in endowing a total of $21.2 million to fund a dozen new research professorships. The schools raised a total of $10.6 million in private funding and the state commerce department approved matching grants of $10.6 million to support the endowments.

In addition to Washington, the schools receiving the matching funds are Goucher College, Hood College, Johns Hopkins University, Morgan State University, the University of Maryland, Baltimore, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Maryland, College Park.

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