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Donation helps pave way for research center

January 10, 2018

SAULT STE. MARIE – Richard and Theresa Barch of Tecumseh, Mich., have presented Lake Superior State University with a second $500,000 gift for a total of $1 million towards the transformation of LSSU's Aquatic Research Laboratory into the Center for Freshwater Research and Education (CFRE), which will now bear their names.

The $12 million project, slated for completion in 2021, will include an improved hatchery facility, expanded research and classroom space, state-of-the-art research and fish disease testing labs, a community visitor’s center and K-12 discovery area, and offices for regional partners.


LSSU’s Foundation Office accepted the second $500,000 leadership gift from the Dick and Theresa Barch Foundation during a ceremonial check signing last month in Lansing, Mich.


“Theresa and I have been impressed with the hands-on work being done by the students in partnership with the faculty and staff at LSSU,” said Richard Barch. “We are very pleased and proud to have our names associated with the research and improvements being made with stocking the Great Lakes Fishery with Atlantic salmon. We hope others will join us in forging ahead with this important project.”


The Barches with their transformational support and advocacy over the years are helping us make this project come to fruition for our LSSU students, Sault Ste. Marie, and the entire Great Lakes Region," said LSSU President Peter T. Mitchell. "There is no couple more worthy of having their names adorn the CFRE facility, a project that is so important to Sault Ste. Marie's and Michigan's future economy, our understanding of Great Lakes freshwater ecosystems and training future scientists and educators."


“We feel so fortunate to have such great friends of LSSU like Dick and Theresa Barch,” said Tom Coates, executive director of the LSSU Foundation. “Their passion and enthusiasm regarding this project is contagious and inspires us all to raise the remaining funds and reach our goal of $3 million.”


CFRE will be housed in a new facility at the east end of the Cloverland Electrical Cooperative power plant on the St. Mary’s River, in a unique partnership with Cloverland and the City of Sault Ste. Marie. Cloverland Electric is committing resources for the renovation of the current fish hatchery facility while an agreement is being developed for the facility to be built on city property in that vicinity.


Since 1977, LSSU’s current Aquatic Research Laboratory has been a model of a public-private partnership in research, education, and outreach, providing important economic, educational, and scientific benefits to the region. The lab's stocking of Atlantic salmon in the St. Mary’s River for more than three decades has created a world-class fishery in the upper Great Lakes that is valued at over $9 million annually to the Michigan economy. The educational impact is equally impressive as over forty per cent of Michigan DNR fisheries biologists and seventy per cent of Michigan DNR production staffers have been educated at LSSU.


However, over the past decade ARL programs have dramatically outgrown the current facility's capacity. CFRE with a projected 20,000 square feet of space- will at least triple the ARL's space and capabilities providing LSSU students and other researchers with a unique environmental and educational facility. It will also be a premier center for public outreach on issues of regional Great Lakes ecology.

Dick Barch, an avid hunter, fisherman, philanthropist, conservationist, and traveler, discovered the LSSU Aquatic Research Lab during his pursuit of Atlantic salmon. He said he has hunted and fished in more than 60 countries on seven continents, and in his travels has found the fishing for Atlantic salmon in the St. Mary's River to be the best he has seen anywhere.


Barch founded his own business - Stauder, Barch and Associates - in 1968, which grew to be the largest municipal consulting firm in Michigan. The company under Barch’s leadership became known throughout the industry as the "school districts' consultant" for having provided services to more school districts than any other firm in the state.


In 2001, LSSU presented him with an honorary doctorate in recognition of his work on behalf of public education in the state of Michigan.


The CFRE gifts continue a legacy of generosity started when the Barches contributed $250,000 towards the opening of LSSU's Fine Arts Center in 2005.


The Barches’ CFRE gift moves the LSSU Foundation's capital campaign that seeks to raise $3 million for Lake State's share of the project more than half way towards the goal. In July 2016, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a capital outlay bill that earmarked $8.8 million in State support for CFRE construction.

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