Virginia Suttner closes her eyes, and you can see the treasured memory come to life in her mind as a warm smile washes over her face.
"It's just so beautiful," she says. She is sitting with her husband, Professor Lee Suttner, in their living room in Bloomington. But really, she's 1,800 miles away.
Home and Away
Virginia is recalling the beauty of IU's Judson Mead Geologic Field Station in Montana. And if you were at the Suttners' home in Bloomington, you'd get a sense of what she is talking about. The walls feature paintings—vistas around and of the Station. Each depicts scenes of serenity and peaceful mountain-scapes. It's no wonder that their planned gift is to help enhance this IU treasure that, for them, is also a family treasure.
For aspiring geoscientists, the Station is a classroom, and a crucial one. Lee will tell you that the energy industry needs graduates. An expected surge in retirements of geologists, geophysicists, geo-biologists, and geo-chemists will create a vacuum. "It is a crisis for the industry, but an opportunity for Indiana University," says Lee.
There's Something Special About Montana
The Station makes IU a leader in teaching geosciences in the field. Its location is rich with differing types of geological phenomena. According to Professor Suttner, there are four structural styles in western North America that every student should study. But only in the vicinity of the Station do as many as three of the styles converge. That provides a critical advantage for students who enroll in the Indiana University field program.
"Nintendo geologists," is how Lee describes geologists trained on computer models. "Students need to get out into the field to truly understand the limits of these models," he insists.
The Suttners' gift leads a campaign to endow the Station. The endowment will fund new curriculum opportunities while enhancing the facilities. Moreover, it will create new scholarship opportunities.
By expanding the Station, the Department of Geology will be able to open it up to more students, including pre-college students and their teachers, professionals, and even adults seeking travel and a learning adventure. The hope is that the Station will become a self-sustaining asset of IU.
A Family Treasure
"We owe a lot to the university," says Lee. "We've had great satisfaction in our life with IU. And the greatest source of satisfaction has been, for me, teaching in the field. We must now give something back."
But the Station is also woven into the fabric of the family. The Suttners' children spent summers there as their father led groups of students out into the Tobacco Root Mountains of Montana. Today, those same children are adults whose fondest memories are of their summers in Montana.
All of this fits nicely into Lee's philosophy of teaching, "Never stop learning, never stop laughing, never stop loving," he says. It's a philosophy the Suttners have lived at IU, and in Montana.
Tell Me More
Like many donors, the Suttners chose to make their gift to Indiana University through a charitable remainder trust. Through this giving vehicle, donors receive income for life, an immediate and substantial tax benefit, and the knowledge that their gift will help Indiana University blossom. Contact the Office of Gift Planning at 800-558-8311 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.