Gift to Endow Joint Professorship; Help Fund New Marine Lab Building

A $2.3 million gift by Randy K. Repass, chairman of West Marine Inc., and his wife, Sally-Christine Rodgers, will fund a joint professorship in marine conservation technology in the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences and in the Pratt School of Engineering.

The gift also will enable the construction of Duke University’s first totally “green” building at the Duke Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, President Nannerl O. Keohane announced Monday.

A total of $1.3 million of Repass-Rodgers’ gift will be matched by Duke’s Nicholas Faculty Leadership Initiative to create a $2 million endowment for a University Professorship in Marine Conservation Technology based at the Marine Lab, which is part of the Nicholas School.

The remaining $1 million will name the Ocean Sciences Teaching Center, the first Duke building specifically designed to the highest standards of energy and environmental efficiency adopted by the United States Green Building Council.

“Building a sustainable future demands strong environmental leadership,” Keohane said. “This generous gift from Randy Repass and Sally-Christine Rodgers fits wonderfully with Duke’s mission to be environmentally conscious. It will help us train our students to be future leaders in marine conservation. And the new Ocean Sciences Teaching Center at the Duke Marine Lab exemplifies the type of energy- and environmentally-efficient building that we at Duke are committed to constructing.”

Repass, a 1966 graduate of the Pratt School, is founder of West Marine in Watsonville Calif., the world’s largest boating supply retailer. Repass said he and his wife made the gift because they believe the Duke Marine Lab is in a position to expand on the significant contributions it has made to marine conservation.

“We are impressed with the lab’s ability to educate current and future leaders in the field of marine and fish conservation, to provide research on key conservation issues, to apply this information to bring about needed policy change, and to work collaboratively with others in the fields of marine conservation, commercial fishing, recreational fishing, as well as policy makers to reach positive outcomes for the marine environment,” Repass said.

Construction of the Ocean Sciences Teaching Center will begin on Pivers Island in Beaufort this April. The first academic building to be built at the Duke Marine Lab in 30 years will house a televideo-capable lecture hall/auditorium that will enhance opportunities for team teaching and other collaborations between students and faculty on the Durham and Beaufort campuses; a teaching laboratory; and spaces for social interactions and interpretive displays. The building will be designed to achieve “platinum” LEEDS (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards. The LEED Green Building Rating System™ is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings.