University News

Bertha and Rodney Fink (seated) recently donated 77 acres of land to Western. The Finks are pictured with President Al Goldfarb (middle), College of Arts and Sciences Dean Inessa Levi (left, standing) and Vice President for Advancement and Public Services Dan Hendricks (standing, right).
[Download Print-Quality Image]

Rodney and Bertha Fink Environmental Studies Field Laboratory and Conservancy
[Download Print-Quality Image]

Rodney and Bertha Fink Environmental Studies Field Laboratory and Conservancy
[Download Print-Quality Image]

Fink Gift Provides Western Students with Ecological Laboratory

November 15, 2007

Share |
Printer friendly version

MACOMB, IL -- Western Illinois University students from a variety of degree programs will have the opportunity to study diverse ecologies and habitats, without traveling outside of the county, thanks to a recent donation by Rodney and Bertha Fink of Macomb. Rodney was the dean of the College of Applied Sciences; Bertha served as an instructor of health sciences.

The Finks have donated 77 acres of land located on West Adams Street, approximately 2.5 miles west of the WIU-Macomb campus, to establish the Rodney and Bertha Fink Environmental Studies Field Laboratory and Conservancy. The property also contains nearly one-half mile of East Lamoine River frontage and is governed by three United States Department of Agriculture conservancy agreements.

"We are grateful for the Fink's contribution to expand student and faculty learning and research opportunities. The field laboratory will provide new experiences to work in environmental conditions which are distinctly different from other sites and will provide unrestricted water access," said Roger Viadero, director of Western's Institute for Environmental Studies (IES), which will oversee management of the property. "Because of the proximity to our campus, undergraduate and graduate students can become engaged in 'hands-on' applications that complement their classroom studies."

According to College of Arts and Sciences Dean Inessa Levi, the variety of habitats on the property will provide students from many disciplines, such as biological sciences, geography and geology, with opportunities to work both individually and in multidisciplinary teams.

"The Finks have been strong advocates of Western Illinois University and continue to be involved," said Western President Al Goldfarb. "We are appreciative of their commitment to the University. Through this gift, our students and faculty will have the chance to conduct even more research activities to further benefit their studies and professional work."

In addition, the Fink property complements and expands Western's existing educational and research capabilities at the Alice L. Kibbe Life Sciences Station in Warsaw (IL) and Vishnu Springs near Tennessee (IL), Levi added.

"The Fink's gift expands undergraduate research activities, which is an essential component of the College of Arts and Sciences' mission. Students involved in undergraduate research are better prepared for the future, their careers and for graduate programs," Levi noted.

Rodney joined Western's agriculture department as an associate professor in 1968. He served as chair of the department before being named dean of the College of Applied Sciences in 1974. He retired in March 1992. Bertha, who received her master's degree from Western, served as an instructor of health sciences from 1976 to 1981.

"We purchased this land 20 years ago so it could be preserved for future generations, and Western was in our thoughts when we bought it. The University has meant a lot to us as a family and has been a big part of our lives. Our four children have bachelor's degrees from Western, and one continued and received his master's degree from Western as well," the Finks said. "We're happy that the land will be used for faculty and student research, and that there will be an area so close to the city limits that remains a preserved natural area."

The Rodney and Bertha Fink Environmental Studies Field Laboratory and Conservancy will further enhance Western's environmental awareness and sustainability efforts, added Dan Hendricks, vice president of advancement and public services.

In addition to the property donation, the Finks have also established the Bertha Grieshaber Fink Scholarship in Nursing, which recognizes Bertha's successful nursing career before teaching at Western. The annual scholarship is designed for undergraduate or graduate students from rural areas of Illinois, Iowa and/or Missouri admitted to Western's nursing program. Preference will be given to undergraduate students with financial need and a desire to work in public health or community health in rural Illinois, and to students enrolled in the nursing completion program. Graduate applicants should be admitted to the public health nursing or community health nursing in either the clinical specialist program or nurse practitioner program.

"Bertha and Rodney have always had a strong interest in their students and a commitment to undergraduate and graduate programs at Western," said Hendricks. "Throughout their careers at Western, the Finks have provided outstanding service to their respective colleges and to the University. We are thankful for their generous gifts that support environmental studies, as well students in the proposed Bachelor of Science in Nursing/BN degree completion program."

Posted By: Darcie Shinberger (
Office of University Communications & Marketing