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Weis Dedication Ceremony

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Dedication Ceremony Scheduled for UW-Fox's Weis Earth Science Museum

Officials at the Weis Earth Science Museum, Wisconsin's Official Mineralogical Museum, are hosting a formal dedication ceremony on Monday, May 6, beginning at 9:00 a.m. The ceremony is being held on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley, in the Student Union.

A number of dignitaries have been invited and confirmed their attendance at the milestone event. Among them are US Sen. Herb Kohl and former Apollo 17 Astronaut Harrison "Jack" Schmitt.

Sen. Kohl, UW-Fox Valley Dean Jim Perry, and Museum Director Joanne Kluessendorf are scheduled to tour the Weis Earth Science Museum (WESM) just prior to the dedication ceremony on May 6. Sen. Kohl was successful in obtaining a $500,000 federal appropriation for creation of exhibits in the museum.

The WESM tour is be followed by the dedication program in the UWFox Student Union, including remarks by Sen. Kohl and a keynote address by Dr. Schmitt.

Schmitt received his Ph.D. in geology and worked for the United States Geological Survey and became one of the first scientist astronauts in 1965. He served as Lunar Module Pilot on the Apollo 17 mission, the last Apollo mission to the moon. On December 11, 1972, he landed in the Valley of Taurus-Littrow as the only scientist and the last of 12 men to ever step on the moon. Schmitt entered politics in 1976, and was elected to the US Senate (1977-1982) from his home state of New Mexico. Schmitt currently holds an appointment as Adjunct Professor in the Department of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The WESM is named in honor of major donors Leonard W. Weis (pr. "W-I-Z-E") and his wife, Donna H. Weis. Dr. Weis is an Associate Professor of Geology and Geography, Emeritus, for the University of Wisconsin System. He spent 23 years as an Assistant Professor, then Associate Professor, in the UW System including approximately 20 years at UWFox. During his tenure at the Menasha campus, his students affectionately knew him as "Doc Rock."

First announced in August 1999, the WESM is a 5,500-foot facility that is focused on Wisconsin's geologic and mining heritage. It is physically part of and accessible through the UWFox campus, and is programmatically linked to the highly successful Barlow Planetarium. Groundbreaking for the museum took place in March 2001.

According to Kluessendorf, "we hope to reach 25,000 school children a year, teaming with the Barlow Planetarium to provide a truly enriching experience. We have a world class collection of Wisconsin minerals. There are two dozen handcrafted display cases and dozens of exhibits and displays being prepared. We even have a 19th century 'walk through' lead mine, and a Native American mining diorama."

Among the most unique features of the WESM are a sample of 14,000 year-old wooly mammoth hair, 11,000 year-old Native American artifacts, a 420 million-year-old fossil wall, and Wisconsin's own beautiful red granite.

"This is a unique museum within Wisconsin," Kluessendorf explains, "because of our focus. This is one of the very few museums nationally that's dedicated to a state's geologic history and mining heritage. The WESM has hundreds of fossil and mineral specimens. It literally covers 4.6 billion years of Earth history."

The WESM was built entirely with private gifts and philanthropic donations. It is located on the south side of the UWFox campus, 1478 Midway Road, Menasha.