Recently retired Montana State University President Geoffrey Gamble and his wife Patricia are making a $1 million bequest to his alma mater, California State University, Fresno, to enhance its linguistics program through two endowments.
The announcement was made Saturday, Oct. 16, by Fresno State President John D. Welty during the College of Arts and Humanities Brunch celebrating both the university’s homecoming and its centennial.
The gift will establish The Dr. Geoffrey and Patricia Gamble Professorship in Linguistics/Endangered Languages and the Dr. Geoffrey and Patricia Gamble Endangered Languages Program Endowment to support field study and research of endangered languages.
“Not only are Geoffrey and Patricia Gamble passionate about education, they are equally committed to giving back,” Welty said in announcing their gift. “Through this support, our Department of Linguistics will continue the important work that is so a part of the Gambles’ passion.”
Geoffrey Gamble, who attended Fresno High School before Fresno State, told Saturday’s gathering that he considers his education “a gift that has lasted a lifetime.”
He said, “It is an honor for Patricia and me to return that gift to people who changed my life – faculty and students.”
“We received so much from this place that it’s a privilege to give back,” Gamble added.
Linguistics is one of the departments within Fresno State’s College of Arts and Humanities, home also to the Department of English from which Geoffrey Gamble graduated in 1965 with a Bachelor of Arts. He was awarded a masters in linguistics in 1971 by Fresno State, before receiving his Ph.D. from the University of California.
After serving as a linguistics professor, he entered university administration in leadership positions at Washington State University and the University of Vermont. In 2000, Gamble was named president of Montana State University. He retired in 2009.
Gamble is the author of two books and a dozen articles on Native American languages. He has won grants and earned service awards for his academic achievements in linguistics. In retirement, he plans to return to the classroom occasionally to teach “and continue sharing his passion for linguistics with Montana State students,” Welty said.
His work – and that made possible by the Gambles’ bequest – is aimed at endangered languages, which are those that have been incorporated into other languages through cultural assimilation or are otherwise being lost as fewer people speak them.
“Linguistics is a discipline in our college that often doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves,” said Dr. Vida Samiian, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. “The Gambles’ generous gift helps focus interest on linguistics and will generate excitement among future students and faculty that Fresno State can play an important role in learning about and preserving languages that are a part of our American heritage.”
Gamble chose the Centennial Homecoming weekend to announce his gift, he said, in hopes other alumni would be inspired to contribute to the Campaign for Fresno State, the comprehensive $200 million fundraising effort to support the university as it moves into its second century of service.