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The students of Alpha Chi Sigma, Pacific's chemistry fraternity, turned their $10,000 donation into a $20,000 gift through the Stauffer Challenge Grant

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Stauffer Challenge is Going Strong with Student Support

A $20,000 student gift brings summer research opportunities closer to reality for Pacific chemistry students
Feb 1, 2015

Pacific students are always up for a challenge, and when the opportunity arose to give back to their community, the students of Pacific's chapter of Alpha Chi Sigma, the national chemistry fraternity, didn't miss a beat.

"This was the great opportunity we had been waiting for," said Alec Follmer '14, a former president of Alpha Chi Sigma who majored in biochemistry.

He and fellow members of Alpha Chi Sigma, a national chemistry fraternity, jumped at the chance to turn $10,000 from their chapter's fundraising coffers into a $20,000 gift to the University.

The Stauffer challenge grant, announced in January of 2014, has a goal of matching gifts like Alpha Chi Sigma's, dollar for dollar, up to a potential total of $1 million. The funds will support the John Stauffer Undergraduate Summer Research Endowment in Chemistry and Biochemistry.

When fully funded, the endowment will provide approximately 10 grants every year to undergraduate students at Pacific allowing them to pursue their research, outside of the rigorous school year. Summer research opportunities provide important experience for undergraduate students, often propelling them into additional scholarly research and prestigious graduate programs.

Students like Follmer have seen the impact of undergraduate research first-hand; from his sophomore year, Follmer worked with chemistry Professor Jianhua Ren on her research using sophisticated computational studies of the gas-phase acidity and basicity of organic molecules, experience that led to his acceptance in UC Irvine's highly competitive doctoral program in biochemistry.

Such projects are invaluable to students' futures, according to Ren.

"The Stauffer Challenge Grant will undoubtedly be a great support for students interested in chemistry and conducting meaningful research in chemistry," Ren said. "As a faculty member and a research advisor, working with talented young researchers has been an incredibly rewarding experience."

The Alpha Chi Sigma gift came as a complete surprise to the University.

"The donation came out of the blue to us," said Andreas Franz, professor and co-chair of the Department of Chemistry. "We are extremely grateful to the students of Alpha Chi Sigma for their generosity. They are not only supporting the short-term objective of helping the university match the Stauffer Challenge grant, but they do so much more: They are effectively investing in a commitment that the chemistry faculty and the University are making into the future education of students in chemistry and biochemistry."

The students of Alpha Chi Sigma had long been raising funds to support the chapter's mission of helping its members achieve their goals and ambitions as chemists through such activities as hosting benefit nights at local restaurants, peddling donuts outside of the University Center, or selling lab books to fellow students.

"One of the great things about Pacific is that people are so willing to give, and the students especially are so willing to give," Follmer said. "Students here give their time, they donate to your cause, they are willing to support you in any way that they can."

Arth Patel '14, who served as president of Alpha Chi Sigma in the fall of 2014, knows that the current generation of millennial students is one that is motivated by a sincere desire to help their fellow students succeed.

"Millennials will give as long as it serves a higher purpose and it's a good investment for them," said Patel in a recent interview with Comstocks Magazine. "When the opportunity is presented in the right way, I think our generation is generous."

And as the brothers and sisters of Alpha Chi Sigma know, there is no better investment than in the future of Pacific students.

"I want another kid who, like me, really loves chemistry, to come here and be provided with the same environment and the same tools and opportunities for success that I had, and for that student to be even more successful than I had ever hoped to be," Follmer said.

To support the Stauffer Challenge Grant, please visit the Stauffer Challenge Grant webpage.

For more ways to support College of the Pacific, please consider making a gift to the College.