The University of Wisconsin-Superior Foundation has accepted a $1.5 million donation from the Swenson Family Foundation to establish an endowment fund for the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program.

Now entering its ninth year, the SURF program provides funding to students and mentors to support student-driven research, scholarly and creative activities in all disciplines. Participation has more than doubled from providing seven students with full summer research fellowships in 2012 to 19 students receiving full fellowship awards or SURF developmental research grants this past summer.

“In 2012, Jim and Sue Swenson brought the concept of a SURF program to the university for consideration,” Jeanne Thompson, executive director of the UW-Superior Foundation, said in a news release. “Since then, Swenson Family Foundation has been gracious in providing funding each year to the UW-Superior Foundation in support of our SURF teams. Their recent decision to establish an endowment fund to increase the annual level of support and to sustain the program in perpetuity is genuinely appreciated.” 

Most recently, four 2018 SURF participants traveled to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) conference at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, and one participant traveled to Brockport, N.Y., to present a research project at the 2019 International Association for Great Lakes Research Conference. Three UW-Superior students will be attending the NCUR at Montana State University and another student will present at the Midwestern Psychological Association’s annual meeting.

“Students continually tell us how important the SURF opportunity has been to both their academic and personal development,” said Julie O’Leary, program administrator for the Center for Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity. “Presenting their work at conferences and symposiums closes the SURF experience for students in a way that recognizes their accomplishments and prepares them for life after college. They gain both the confidence and the inspiration to continue their work.”

With this gift, students will continue to benefit from immersion in research and creative work and the opportunity to showcase their research throughout the country without financial burden.

“We want to express our tremendous appreciation to the Swenson Family Foundation for their ongoing friendship and support,” said Chancellor Renée Wachter. “We simply cannot thank them enough for what they have provided – and continue to do so – for UW-Superior, our inventive and talented students and faculty, and the UW-Superior Foundation. It is a lasting legacy that will influence generations to come.”