The family of two University of Arizona alumni have donated $2 million to help the university expand its highly ranked mining and geosciences programs and set the stage for an interdisciplinary school of mining engineering and mineral resources.
The Lundin family has made a $2 million commitment and will provide up to $2.5 million in addition in a challenge grant to match funds raised by December 2022.
The family leads the Lundin Group, which comprises 14 publicly traded companies in the natural resource sector that operate in more than 25 countries.
"We are very excited to be supporting such an important initiative alongside the University of Arizona. The drive toward a safer, more sustainable and efficient mining operation requires the very best talent across many disciplines, not just mining engineering and geology," said Jack Lundin, president and CEO of Bluestone Resources Inc., one of the group's companies.
Lundin earned a master's degree in mining, geological and geophysical engineering at the University of Arizona in 2016 and has served on the board of directors for the university's Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources since 2017.
"While most universities' mineral resources programs are shrinking or not keeping pace with change, the University of Arizona has demonstrated a vision and commitment to enhancing natural resources education. This gift is intended to catalyze the resources necessary and to attract industry support to make this vision of creating the best mineral resource program in the world into a reality," Lundin said. "We believe this partnership with the University of Arizona to create a new interdisciplinary school of mining and mineral resources will bring the kind of energy and excitement needed to attract the very best talent, and to prepare students to positively impact the future of mineral resources."
Supplying the Best Possible Workforce
At the core of expansion initiatives is an unwavering commitment to keeping the industry pipeline filled with well-rounded, highly skilled professionals. Thus, the new school aims to prepare a new generation of professionals to enter the mining industry from a broader range of educational disciplines, including finance, law, computer science, environment and social sciences. The College of Engineering, the College of Science and the Lowell Institute are sharing the gift and working together to develop interdisciplinary curriculum and update research and teaching facilities, such as the San Xavier Underground Mining Laboratory.
The University of Arizona – home to one of only 13 mining engineering programs in the nation sanctioned by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology Inc. – is well positioned to advance mining and mineral resources education. In fact, the QS World University Rankings place the university's mining engineering program at No. 3 in the United States and No. 19 in the world. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university's geosciences graduate program as third in the nation among geology graduate programs.
"We look forward to using this gift to become even better," said David W. Hahn, the Craig M. Berge dean of the College of Engineering. "The generosity of the Lundin family will allow us to upgrade our facilities, build partnerships with industry and other universities, and strengthen the department's focus in areas such as data science and artificial intelligence."
The Lundins are based in Canada and Switzerland, but the family maintains strong ties in Arizona and at the university. Lundin and his brother, Harry, who earned a bachelor's degree in mining engineering in 2010, were both at UArizona when Professor Emerita Mary Poulton, co-director of the Lowell Institute, was head of the Department of Mining and Geological Engineering.
Maintaining Commitment to Sustainability
"Mining is more critical than ever as we look toward a more sustainable future for our planet. Mined materials like copper are needed for electric vehicles, windmills and server farms for cloud-based applications," said Poulton, who co-directs the Lowell Institute with Mark Barton, professor of geosciences. "Our location amid some of the largest copper deposits on Earth, world-class faculty members and long-standing relationships with industry mean the University of Arizona has what it takes to lead. This gift will help us take our efforts to the next level."
The gift will also fund the Lundin Family Endowed Chair in Economic Geology within the Department of Geosciences.
"The establishment of this chair will strengthen our economic geology program, which is designed to apply geological research to expand our knowledge and understanding of the distribution of minerals," said Elliott Cheu, interim dean of the College of Science. "Furthermore, by helping us bring together talented faculty and students from a wide range of disciplines, these funds will strengthen the university's outstanding reputation in mineral resources."
As one of the first two areas of study offered at the University of Arizona – along with agriculture – mining has been an institutional cornerstone since the university's founding in 1885.
"Mining has been an important part of the University of Arizona since its very beginning as a land-grant institution," said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. "We have been preparing students for mining careers for 130 years, and our alumni occupy leadership positions at mining operations across the globe. With this generous gift from the Lundin family, and the possibility of even more through the challenge, we have an opportunity to significantly advance our world-renowned efforts to ensure safe and sustainable extraction of the important materials we rely upon every day."
"The Lundins' transformational gift is shaping an incredible future for mining and mineral resources at the University of Arizona," said John-Paul Roczniak, president and CEO of the University of Arizona Foundation. "We look forward to rallying additional support as part of their matching gift challenge."