The third gift in two years by Dr. F. Harold Downing to California State University, Fresno's Downing Planetarium is the largest gift from one donor ever made to the sciences at the university.
Downing, a long-time resident of Fresno, made the announcement last week that he was giving the university an additional $1 million to establish an operating endowment fund for the Planetarium that bears his family's name.
Downing's gifts to date, for science scholarships and the planetarium, total $2,375,000.
The latest gift will go into a perpetual endowment to help fund programs for the planetarium and keep the admission cost to a minimum, making it more affordable for the public and for Valley school children.
The gift announcement was made on Feb. 5, at a donor preview reception in the planetarium. The Downing family and guests toured the building and watched a brief screening of the first program the planetarium will show when it opens in April.
More than 100 guests ended the building preview by singing "Happy Birthday" to Downing, who will be 96 years old on Feb. 18.
The donor's son, Dr. Tom Downing, a local Fresno dentist, said the family sees the planetarium as an important community education resource. He said that it will allow students and the public to learn about celestial events from scientists.
As family spokesman, Tom Downing said he hopes the planetarium will serve as a catalyst to encourage more students to follow a science career.
The Downing Planetarium, located on the northeast corner of Maple and San Ramon Avenues, will sponsor a public open house on Sunday, April 16, from 1 to 5 p.m.
The planetarium was the first building constructed on campus as part of the Central California Science Center. A state crime laboratory will be the second building constructed in the science center followed by the projected new science building, which will be developed in the next few years.
Public Affairs Offices/Campus News