FAYETTE, Iowa (October 19, 2009) – On behalf of Upper Iowa University, President Alan G. Walker presented a check in the amount of $1,000 to Kirkwood Community College President Mick Starcevich for the Steve Atherton Memorial Endowed Scholarship at a special ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 15. Atherton, a natural resources professor at Kirkwood for over 25 years, passed away unexpectedly in 2008.
The event was held just south of the Kirkwood campus near Ely, where a wetlands area was memorialized in Atherton’s name. The gray sky, light mist, and chilly temperatures didn’t deter the large crowd that gathered for the occasion, including special guests: Atherton’s mother, Lee, and brother, Charlie.
Atherton was described by all as a dedicated instructor, who was loved by his students and passionate about Iowa’s natural resources, parks, prairies, and landscape. President Starcevich said it was Atherton’s passion and commitment to what he loved that not only helped make a difference in students’ lives, but contributed to the success of Kirkwood’s Agricultural Department. He said Kirkwood “graduates the second largest number of Ag students in the nation for a community college.”
President Starcevich introduced President Walker as one of Kirkwood’s key partners, stating that over 50 students have transferred to Upper Iowa University in the past year to further their education. He gave credit to an articulation agreement in place that provides a seamless transition to UIU.
“I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this special event in honor of an exceptional person, who is well known to Upper Iowa,” said President Walker. “We are proud to salute this fine educator, Steve Atherton, who has changed the lives of so many students.”
In addition to the $1,000, President Walker handed President Starcevich his personal check for the Atherton Scholarship. He pledged to match all funds the UIU Science and Mathematics faculty had collected to put toward this scholarship.
“Again, we are honored to be here today to show our commitment to the special relationship Upper Iowa University has with Kirkwood Community College,” added President Walker. “It is a relationship we will value well into the future, as Kirkwood students pursue their higher education endeavors.”
The ceremony ended with Iowa Department of Natural Resources trumpeter swan restoration coordinator Ron Andrews releasing two trumpeter swans into the Steve Atherton Memorial Wetlands area in Atherton’s memory. Atherton was instrumental in leading the effort to reintroduce trumpeter swans to Iowa.
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