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USU alum Alicja Copik

Alumni, Faculty, Staff Create Lab Honoring Well-Loved Aggie

Courtesy Donna Barry

Geology Rocks

New Teaching Facility Honors Geologist, Former Dean Don Fiesinger.

“It is no exaggeration to say that this department would not be anywhere near where it is today without the extraordinary efforts of Don Fiesinger,” said USU Geology professor Jim Evans to a crowd of alumni, faculty, staff and friends, who gathered April 13, 2017, to dedicate the Donald W. Fiesinger Petrology Teaching Lab in existing space within USU’s Geology Building.

Fiesinger, who retired from USU in 2009, was on hand for the ceremony and reminded guests USU’s Department of Geology “has always been like a family.”

“Any successful changes in the past were because of a broader family effort to get things done,” he said.

Funded with a lead gift of $500,000 from the Browning Foundation, along with donations from alumni, faculty, staff and friends, the renovated facility will serve as a teaching lab for core major geology classes, including lab sections of Rocks and Minerals, Sedimentology and Stratigraphy, Structural Geology, along with Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology.

“Don mentored a lot of Geology students and transformed and shepherded our department over the years,” says Joel Pederson, department head. “Many alumni readily responded with gifts to complete the lab’s renovation and fund equipment.”

A highlight of the refurbished lab, he says, is updated instructional technology, which provides capabilities for recording lectures and lab exercises, along with equipment to broadcast lab sections of courses to distance campuses.

Along with its technical capabilities, faculty say the lab, which will be open to students beyond classroom hours, will serve as a gathering place for mentorship and a workroom for collaborative study and research between students and faculty.

“Don has always been deeply committed to teaching geology and putting students first,” Evans says. “From doubling the number of labs he taught and coming in at night, to scrounging around campus and town for fixtures and furniture to equip the building, Don has worked tirelessly for USU.”

A native of Syracuse, New York, Fiesinger joined USU in 1976. He served on the Geology faculty and as department head from 1982 to 2000. In addition, he was named interim dean in 2000 and dean in 2003, a position he held until 2007.

-- Mary-Ann Muffoletto

Don Fiesinger and students

At an April 2017 dedication ceremony, USU geologist and former Science dean Don Fiesinger, left, cuts the ribbon for the Donald W. Fiesinger Petrology Teaching Lab at USU, as Geology department head Joel Pedersen looks on.

Courtesy Susanne Janecke