The Rausser College of Natural Resources announced a new endowment dedicated to the late professor Malcolm Kerr for the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program, or ELP.
The endowment, which offers scholarships to environmental activists from the Middle East and North Africa, allows qualified professionals whose work centers on environmental justice and natural resources to attend a three-week-long educational program held by campus.
According to a press release, the first recipient of the endowment was Rasha Abu Dayyeh, a water engineer from West Bank. Abu Dayyeh stated she currently runs an organization that provides educational services about water wastage.
The program, which was held virtually this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, was a training course for about 30 environmental activists from around the world to make them more effective in the work they are carrying out, noted David Zilberman, ELP program director and campus professor from the department of agricultural and resource economics.
“I was really hesitant to do the program online because I was not sure it would be as efficient as the in person participation, so I was positively surprised that the program went on really well,” Dayyeh said. “I have made really good connections with people. The whole program was structured in a very nice way that proceeded smoothly and you feel like you fit in easily.”
Zilberman noted the ELP program was first established 20 years ago, with over 700 alumni who have participated.
He hopes the endowment will allow the ELP program to recruit more Middle Eastern students and other people from the developing world.
“It’s a fantastic program,” Zilberman said. “There is no program in the world that is better for people who have a foundation in education in environmental science.”
The endowment, secured with the funding of campus alumni Richard Beahrs and his wife Carolyn Beahrs, was named in honor of Kerr, who was a professor at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon.
Throughout the 1980s, during the country’s bloody civil war, the university was a frequent subject of political kidnappings and bombings. In 1984, Kerr, the president of the university at the time, was assassinated by members of an anti-American Shia militia.
Kerr is survived by his wife Ann and four children: Susan, John, Steve and Andrew. Steve Kerr is known for his prominent NBA career and position as the head coach of the Golden State Warriors.
“Mr. Bearhs was on the board of a foundation with my son John, and he learned about my late husband and the American University of Beirut,” Ann Kerr said. “He thought this would be a nice way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their foundation.”