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VMNH slated to receive extra state funds

Sunday, March 2, 2014

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Virginia Museum of Natural History (VMNH) is proposed to receive a little extra state funding during the next two years.

The state gave the museum $2,917,110 in general fund revenues for the current fiscal year, a document shows.

In addition to that, the museum is proposed to receive $145,000 extra in fiscal 2015, which will start July 1, and $155,000 extra in fiscal 2016, said Executive Director Joe Keiper.

The extra amounts are one-time appropriations in response to a request for additional funds to help with marketing and to hire a new curator, Keiper told the VMNH Board of Trustees on Saturday.

He said, though, state officials have told him that the museum can use the extra funds however it sees fit.

Some of the funds, Keiper said, may need to be spent on boiler and heater plumbing repairs at the museum’s former location on Douglas Avenue, which now is used mainly for collections and storage.

Also Saturday, the trustees learned that Jim Beard, the museum’s research and collections director and earth sciences curator, is back after a two-year leave to be a program manager for the National Science Foundation (NSF).

At the Arlington-based NSF, Beard was involved in an ocean-drilling program. He has long been interested in projects involving drilling below the ocean floor to learn how the Earth has evolved over millions of years.

“We know more about the dark side of the moon than the depths of the oceans,” he said.

Funding for the ocean-drilling program was “in flux” but it has been renewed for five years, Beard said. He added that he hopes his involvement somehow helped convince federal officials to renew it.

He enjoyed his time at the NSF, but he is glad to be home, he said.

The trustees also learned that Curator of Marine Biology Judith Winston will retire soon and is planning to move to Florida. Winston once served as interim director of the museum after one director left and another was hired.

Plaques recognizing their accomplishments will be presented to them as well as to Nancy Moncrief, the museum’s curator of mammalogy who served as interim science director while Beard was gone.

The trustees also learned that new videoconferencing equipment has been installed to help the museum conduct distance learning programs.


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