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Secret Generosity

January 8, 2021
woman and man posing outside in snowy mountains
Margaret and Don Boyd (Courtesy Photo)

Don and Margaret Boyd gave generously—and often anonymously—to UW.

 

By Sunnie Lew

 

The University of Wyoming has received a transformational estate gift from the late geology and geophysics Professor Donald Boyd. Boyd passed away in April, at the age of 92.

Few knew of Boyd’s incredible generosity during his tenure at UW. He and his wife gave privately and anonymously with no desire for acknowledgement. Today, the substantial total of their giving remains undisclosed.

Boyd joined the Department of Geology and Geophysics in January 1956. In the summer of that same year, a Colorado native named Margaret Sitzman became a professor in the Department of Home Economics (later changed to Family and Consumer Sciences). The two attended a UW event for new faculty where they met for the first time. He would later describe himself as being smitten. They were married one year later.

Don and Margaret built a partnership that was focused on facilitating and empowering others. Individually, they pursued remarkable careers. Together, they impacted the university in a way that is unparalleled.

Boyd was an active researcher, and much of his paleontological work was published by the American Museum of Natural History. His research led him to pursue fieldwork on six continents. He mentored 52 graduate students and taught courses in historical geology, invertebrate paleontology and various aspects of sedimentary geology.

Margaret taught in food and nutrition and served as coordinator of the Dietetics Program. She co-wrote the book Baking and Cooking at High Altitude, which was published by the UW Agriculture Experiment Station in 1961. The publication furthered food science, examining ingredient reactions on a cellular level. She eventually became the head of the home economics department.

The couple is responsible for advancements across campus. Boyd was essential to the creation of the UW Honors College. In 1988, he was appointed as the program’s director. Throughout his career, he helped elevate the UW Department of Geology and Geophysics into the academic powerhouse it is today. The couple also provided years of support to the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Scholarship opportunities were a focal point for the Boyds. In 2001, they established the Geology Excellence Fund and the Department of Family of Consumer Sciences Endowment.

In 2012, Margaret passed away after a battle with cancer. To honor his wife, Boyd continued the efforts he and Margaret had lead during their time together. Those who had the privilege of knowing the Boyds have felt a tremendous loss in his passing.

“Don and Margaret derived genuine pleasure from helping others,” says Family and Consumer Sciences Office Associate Senior and close friend Mona Gupton. “I will miss them for the rest of my life.”

Don and Margaret’s generosity extended beyond their monetary support, which was evident through their community engagement. The magnitude of their impact may never be truly known, but it is certainly felt by those whose lives were touched by the Boyds’ immense love for UW.

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