A generous $1 million gift from an anonymous local donor (the University’s largest private cash donation to that time) established the One World, One Water Center for Urban Water Education and Stewardship. Plans for the OWOW Center included offering a minor in water studies and public education about this vital resource.

The center engaged multiple academic departments at the University as well as leading local and national water organizations in developing a curriculum and learning opportunities. Course topics included hydrology, water law, history, economics, politics, conflict resolution and negotiation. The center also connected students with internships, service learning and volunteer opportunities.

“When we researched the potential for this program, we found that there wasn’t much being done at the undergraduate level to incorporate a variety of disciplines in water education,” said Sandra Haynes, dean of the College of Professional Studies. “Through the interdisciplinary model, our graduates have the potential to make lasting impacts on water issues in our communities across the state and in their chosen professions.”

The OWOW Center also planned to facilitate co-curricular public education seminars and water stewardship activities on campus and in the community. It worked with a high-level community advisory group to ensure direct relevance of the program to statewide water needs and interests.

The $1 million donation, along with funds contributed by the University, seeded the five-year pilot project to lay the foundation for the center’s long-term sustainability.