S. W. Witmer Endowment Fund

We are proud of our students’ accomplishments in research and scholarship – they have contributed countless hours in the field and lab.  We are fortunate to be able to support undergraduate research through the Witmer Endowment. If you would like to make contributions to this fund, you can give online and write “Witmer Fund” in the comments section.

Witmer Scholars

  • Suman Bhandari, Summer 2013, Synaptic Efficacy Project
  • Jessica Davila, Summer 2013, Synaptic Efficacy Project
  • Aaron Kauffmann, Summer 2013, Photobioreactor Project
  • Tessa Yoder, Summer 2013, Photobioreactor Project
  • Theo Kuchar, Summer 2013, Honeybee Behavioral Genetics Project
  • Will Kanag, Summer 2013, Kenya Fire Ecology Project
  • Ellie Schertz, Summer 2013, Kenya Fire Ecology Project
  • Ali Fretz, Summer 2013, Kenya Fire Ecology Project
  • Josh Yoder, Summer 2013, Kenya Fire Ecology Project
  • Jenna Nofziger, Summer 2012, Photobioreactor Project
  • Nathaniel Tann, Summer 2012, Photobioreactor Project
  • David Stoesz, 2011-12, Photobioreactor Project – Kenya Tree Project
  • Menan Assefa,  2011-12, Photobioreactor Project
  • David Graber, 2011-12, Photobioreactor Project
  • Emily Fretz, 2011-12, Membrane Transport Project
  • Daniel Fecher, 2011-12, Membrane Transport Project
  • Kristen Martin, 2011-12, Membrane Transport Project
  • Laura Schlabach, Summer 2011, Kenya Fire Ecology Project
  • David Stoesz, Summer 2011, Kenya Fire Ecology Project
  • Tori Yoder, Summer 2011, Kenya Fire Ecology Project
  • Luke Zehr, Summer 2011, Kenya Fire Ecology Project
  • Peter Martin, 2010, Bee brains and RNA Project
  • Michael Fecher, 2010, Membrane Transport Project
  • Tyler Keller, 2010, Membrane Transport Project
  • Jeremy Good, Summer 2010, Tallgrass Prairie Grazing Project
  • Adie Gerig, Summer 2010, Tallgrass Prairie Grazing Project
  • Hannah Eberly, 2009-10, Algae Photobioreactor Project
  • Hannah Miller, 2009-10, Algae Photobioreactor Project
  • Sarah Thiessen, Summer 07, Yeast DNA Microarray Project
  • Sarah Thiessen, Summer 07, Yeast DNA Microarray Project
  • Sarah Thiessen & Irene Ngun, Summer 06, Yeast DNA Microarray Project
  • Jonathan Schrock,J ’98-’99, Yeast Project
  • Nicholas King, ’97-’98, Yeast Project
  • Ryan Troyer, ’96-’97, Yeast Project
  • Ryan Troyer,’95-’96, Yeast Project
  • David Wieand, ’95-’96, Yeast Project
  • Rushika Perera, ’94-’95, Yeast Project
  • Rushika Perera, ’93-’94, Yeast Project
  • Rushika Perera, ’92-’93, Yeast Project
  • D. J. McFadden, ’91-’92, Aquatic Project
  • Eric Nord, ’91-’92, Yeast Project

About S.W. Witmer

S.W. Witmer was born in 1888 in Farmersville, Pa. He received a bachelor’s degree from Goshen College in 1914, a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1915, and a Ph.D. degree in 1935 from Indiana University. He taught biology at Goshen College from 1915 to 1966 and served as weather observer for the U.S. Weather Service from 1915 to 1969.

Discovery was one of Dr. Witmer’s greatest joys. He explored nature very enthusiastically in a scholarly and organized manner. He was also an accomplished linguist and a poet. In 1944, Dr. Witmer discovered one of the rarest plants in Indiana, the Kankakee Mallow, growing along a railroad near Goshen. In 1982, because of his discovery, the railroad leased an area along the tracks to the Indiana Nature Conservancy in order to protect the rare plants.

Witmer Woods was acquired by Goshen College in 1941 to be used as a natural recreation area. Dr. Witmer and his students transplanted trees and shrubs to create an arboretum. This valuable resource and learning tool is a fitting tribute to one who contributed so much to identifying and preserving plant life.

During retirement, Dr. Witmer pursued his intense interest in plant identification. He identified trees, shrubs and vines for the Elkhart County Park Board at Ox Bow Park and at Parson’s Swamp Woods. Witmer Trace, a 1.1 mile self-guided nature trail at Ox Bow was named in his honor. After an active life well into his nineties, Dr. Witmer died in 1990 at the age of 101.

The tradition of discovery developed by Dr. Witmer at Goshen College has been continued in the biology department by subsequent generations of faculty and students.

Establishment of the Fund

In 1977 the S.W. Witmer Fund was established by a modest gift from Irvin J. and Dorcas Kauffman. Their suggestion was to build an endowment to support special projects of the biology department. Special needs are understood as activities that are not directly related to routine classroom and teaching lab activities. The income is used, in part, to support research activities of students and faculty as they seek to discover more about the wonders of the natural order.

Note: Numerous alumni and friends have, due to the promotional activities of Dr. Frank Bishop during the 1980s, contributed to building this endowment fund. The income from this fund now supports the research activities of 3-5 students for 10 hours per week each and 3 hours of released time for one professor during the academic year. We welcome additional support and invite you to increase this important educational resource. Anyone wishing to add to the S.W. Witmer Endowment Fund may send contributions to:

Witmer Fund
Development Office
1700 S. Main St.
Goshen College
Goshen, IN 46526

Or you can make online contributions at this website – be sure to write “Witmer Fund” in the comments section of the online form.

Name of the Fund

The name of the fund shall be the S.W. Witmer Endowment fund. In its abbreviated form it may be referred to as the Witmer Endowment.

Management of the Fund

The Fund shall be invested with the Mennonite Board of Education Endowment Portfolio for Goshen College. This fund is the property of Goshen College and Mennonite Board of Education for the purposes outlined in these guidelines. If at anytime the objectives of this endowment are no longer central to the mission and purposes of Goshen College, its Board of Directors may designate an alternative use which most closely meets the original intent of the donors.

Purposes of the Fund

  1. Expenditures from the S.W. Witmer fund are to be made only upon the written request of the biology department and with the approval of the academic dean.
  2. Expenditures from the S.W. Witmer fund are to be used to support special needs identified by the biology department. This excludes paying salaries for teaching regular courses, and also excludes expenditures for the initial purchase or replacement of ordinary laboratory equipment that is commonly used in regular teaching labs.
  3. Examples of special needs for which the income may used, include but are not limited to:
    • Witmer Scholars, undergraduate research assistants assigned to a departmental research project.
    • Partial support for release time from teaching courses, for faculty members directing undergraduate research.
    • Special, or a new type of equipment needed to initiate a new learning activity.
    • Partial start-up costs for new undergraduate research projects.
    • Unusual learning activities not included in the annual budget.


The college is free to publish the purposes, activities and recipients of this endowment through all normal channels.