When Bert L. Conrey became the first geology faculty member at the fledgling California State College, Long Beach, in 1955, he soon made a mark on the program and the campus.
He helped establish the Department of Geological Sciences and developed new programs in such areas as marine geology and oceanography. Moreover, his understanding of the connection between geology and engineering contributed to the development of CSULB’s engineering program.
Conrey retired in 1983 and died in 1998. He and his wife, Ethel, left an estate gift of $600,000 toward establishing an endowed faculty chair in geology. Faculty, staff and alumni of the Department of Geological Sciences contributed to the endowment, and the faculty determined that the person chosen for the position would have the responsibility of developing a graduate program in the field of hydrogeology, which deals with such areas as groundwater and surface water interactions and management, as well as contaminant transport. The endowment was largely completed with significant, regular contributions since 2002 from the Carl W. Johnson Foundation. Johnson was a prominent Southern California contractor and engineer and a cousin of Ethel Conrey.
Presentation of the final $30,000 donation from the Johnson Foundation to complete the $1 million endowment for the new Bert L. and Ethel J. Conrey Endowed Chair in Hydrogeology took place at CSULB on Nov. 15. Susan Ollweiler, executive director of the Carl W. Johnson Foundation, presented a check during the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Fellows Colloquium and Dean’s Breakfast, which featured Stan Finney, chair of the Geological Sciences Department, as guest speaker.
Finney, a colleague of Conrey, acknowledged the late professor’s contributions to the university. “Bert was a most kind and honorable person, and students were his highest priority. The department grew quickly under his leadership in the late 1950s, adding many new faculty members that carried the program through the 1960s and beyond.”
“We are grateful to Bert and Ethel Conrey for the vision they had to see what an endowed chair and the establishment of a hydrogeology program would do for the Department of Geological Sciences,” said college Dean Laura Kingsford. “Dr. Finney; the faculty, staff, and alumni in the department; and the Carl W. Johnson Foundation took this vision and worked hard to make it a reality. This is a great achievement and an exciting milestone for the college. We look forward to the excellent program an endowed chair will help establish and the many opportunities it will bring for our faculty and, especially, our students. I congratulate all on the successful completion of the endowment.”
Recruitment is under way for the new faculty member who will be responsible for collaborating with geology and civil engineering faculty and for developing a graduate program of prominence in hydrogeology, as well as preparing undergraduate students for careers in environmental geology.
For more information, visit the geological sciences' Web site or call 562/985-4809.