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WWC receives major gift for College Forest management, education

Warren Wilson College has received a $400,000 gift for the purpose of establishing the Irene Pennington Broyles and Glenn Boone Broyles Fellowship, in order to help preserve and manage the Warren Wilson College Forest in perpetuity.

Irene Broyles, a Somerset, Ky., resident who had survived her husband, Glenn, made the gift before her passing on Nov. 14. She served as librarian at Somerset High School for 32 years, and the couple owned and operated a tree farm in Kentucky for many years. Glenn’s brother, Boyd, and Boyd’s wife, Edith, were partners too in the farm that received numerous environmental awards. Irene Broyles was a 1939 graduate of Dorland-Bell School in Hot Springs, N.C., which merged with the Asheville Farm School in 1942 to form what eventually became the four-year Warren Wilson College in 1967.

The Broyles Fellowship will recognize and support the College Forest director – currently Sustainable Forestry Professor David Ellum, Ph.D. – in using innovative methods of teaching students in forestry, and in conducting research in sustainable forestry, forest management, forest science and forest policy. It also will assist the director’s supervision of Warren Wilson College students concentrating their studies in sustainable forestry and academic fields related to preservation of the College Forest.

“The college is thrilled to receive this generous gift from Irene Broyles establishing the Broyles Fellowship,” Warren Wilson College President Steven L. Solnick said. “The fellowship will help ensure the preservation of the College Forest, and greatly benefit not only our current students, but also those for generations to come.”

Warren Wilson’s 1,130-acre campus includes 625 acres of managed forest. The college has a strong academic program in sustainable forestry within its Environmental Studies Department, as well as a forestry work crew, one of more than 100 student work crews at Warren Wilson.

“Education is the No. 1 natural resource produced by the College Forest,” David Ellum said. “This gift will not only help us to use the best science to protect the ecological integrity of the forest; it also will provide incredible opportunities for our Triad education of academics, work and service that involves students in all aspects of the forest’s stewardship.

“Mrs. Broyles’ generosity will leave a positive and longstanding mark on our students and our forest.”

Irene Broyles had further connections to Warren Wilson College and its forerunners. Two of her four brothers were Asheville Farm School alumni; one sister was a Dorland-Bell alumna, the other attended the school; and a grandniece currently attends Warren Wilson.