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FSU Professor Thomas Serfass Wins Prestigious Elkins Professorship

Frostburg State University biology professor Dr. Thomas Serfass has been awarded the Wilson H. Elkins Professorship from the University System of Maryland.

Over the course of his education and career, Serfass has received over $1 million in grants and donations to support this research and conservation activities to restore river otter populations. For the last eight years, Serfass has been North American Coordinator of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources' Otter Specialist Group.

The $80,000 that the Elkins Professorship provides will allow Serfass to travel to Tanzania and Kenya to initiate research on otter conservation programs. According to Serfass, this professorship is both an outreach and a research project. African citizens will learn how to better conserve aquatic resources while several students will participate in an exchange program. FSU graduate students will be accompanying Serfass to Africa to further their own skills and education and, in return, African students will be able to study here at FSU.

“Tom is an outstanding scholar and scientist with an international reputation,” added Dr. Joseph Hoffman, dean of the college of liberal arts and sciences at FSU.

The Wilson H. Elkins Professorship was established in 1978 as the first permanently endowed, university-wide professorship at the University of Maryland. The professorship is named in honor of Dr. Wilson H. Elkins, a former Rhodes scholar who led the University of Maryland to new levels of distinction as its president from 1954 to 1978. Under Elkins’ leadership, the university grew notably in size, scope and standing.

When the new University System of Maryland began in 1988, Elkins agreed that his professorship should extend to the entire USM family, of which FSU is a member.

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