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Varricchio Family Endowment Supports Paleontology Education and Research

October 21, 2010 -- By Justin Davis, Director of Development, College of Letters & Science

College Office

Philip Varricchio has a love of life and learning. At the recent dedication of the Varricchio Family Paleontology Laboratory, he challenged students to follow their passions throughout their lives and remember to give back. The new lab, supported by an endowment from the Varricchio family, enables paleontology students to have a state-of-the-art classroom and lab space. “This is such a step up and a necessity for these students,” commented Mr. Varricchio. Prior to the opening of the paleontology lab, paleontology students occupied a small, dark and inadequate facility in the basement of Traphagen Hall. 

Philip Varricchio is the patriarch of the family and began his career in the U.S. Navy. He progressed rapidly through the ranks and retired as a commander. Following his service in the Navy, Mr. Varricchio built a highly successful accounting practice in Pennsylvania. He is also very involved with the Association of the U.S. Navy, and was responsible for reactivating the Las Vegas Chapter of the organization. Now 88 years old, Mr. Varricchio loves being involved in the research and teaching that his son, David Varricchio, is performing as a professor at MSU. Dr. Varricchio’s research focuses on the biology of dinosaurs, and involves theropods (the group of primarily carnivorous dinosaurs that includes birds) from the Cretaceous period of Montana and abroad (China, Africa, Argentina). His research exposes undergraduate and graduate students to some of the best paleontology work in the country. 

The dedication of the lab, held in conjunction with the grand opening of the renovated Gaines Hall, was truly a wonderful event, with many paleontology students expressing their gratitude to Philip and the Varricchio family. Mr. Varricchio asked the students to remember this when they are successful in their careers and seek out ways that they too can give back. And he is by no means done. He stated that, “This is the first of much more to come.”

Updated: 04/15/2011