PULLMAN, Wash. — Rocky Crate, a 1969 Washington State University veterinary alumnus, has given $1.5 million to the university to establish The Rocky Crate D.V.M. & Foundation for North American Wild Sheep Endowed Chair in Wild Sheep Disease Research.
Announced today at a press conference held on the Pullman, Wash., campus, the Crate gift invested by the WSU Foundation will provide permanent funding for a program chair and research activities directly related to understanding, preventing and controlling diseases in wild sheep.
“Dr. Crate’s generosity and foresight represents one of the largest single gifts ever given toward the future of wildlife conservation, wild sheep disease research, and the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine,” said WSU President Sam Smith. “Wild sheep are one of the world’s great treasures and this gift recognizes WSU’s history of producing and publishing more peer-reviewed wild sheep disease research results than all other institutions combined.”
By the turn of the century, many wild sheep stocks had, or were, being wiped out by disease, habitat loss, encroachment by domestic species, overgrazing and uncontrolled hunting. In the years since, conscientious management, stewardship of hunting, and transplantation brought some herds back from the brink. But today, diseases, especially pneumonia, are the major mortality factor affecting bighorn sheep in North America. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Hells Canyon area of the Snake River, where in the 1996-97 season more than 300 sheep — some 75 percent of the entire population — died with pneumonia.
Led by veterinary parasitology Professor Bill Foreyt, WSU is the world’s undisputed leader in wild sheep disease research. A long-time friend of Foreyt’s, Crate is the former owner of the Crate Veterinary Hospital in Spanaway, Wash., and a partner in Agri Business, an international animal air transportation concern.
Crate’s gift is a life-income charitable remainder unitrust. The principal will be awarded to WSU upon Crate’s death. Part will come directly to the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine. The remaining 45 percent will be distributed to the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep with the stipulation that the foundation contribute enough to WSU to fund the full $1.5 million if the 55 percent does not reach that amount when the funds are dispersed. As the gift grows, a portion of the funds over the $1.5 million will remain with FNAWS [pronounced FIN-ahs] while keeping the WSU program fully funded. FNAWS will continue their legacy of unmatched wild sheep conservation efforts.
FNAWS is among the world’s most productive conservation organizations. They are vigorously involved in the conservation, propagation and intensive management of the remaining wild sheep populations and their habitats in North America. To date, this has amounted to gifts of more than $13 million to worthwhile projects throughout the continent.
“What I’d really like to see is WSU and FNAWS find a way to prevent the contraction and spread of pneumonia in wild sheep, their number one killer,” said Crate. “That’s it, that’s what I want … It’s all about putting more sheep on the mountain.”
Crate’s gift is among some $42 million contributed by donors last fiscal year to WSU bringing the university’s endowment to more than $152 million. Thanks in part to the Crate gift, WSU is now home to 54 distinguished professorships and endowed chairs in programs of excellence.

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