Skip to main content

Cary Institute receives $2 million gift to reimagine its headquarters

Funds will help provide the facilities needed for 21st century science.

Entrance to the Tozer Ecosystem Science Building. Photo by David Fischer/Cary Institute

A $2 million gift recently received by Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies will support the transformation of its Millbrook, New York headquarters into the facilities needed to advance 21st century science.  

The leadership gift to the Campaign for Cary came from Zibby and Jim Tozer, longtime supporters of Cary Institute and its research for environmental solutions. Zibby served on the Institute’s Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2013; as Chair of the Development and Trusteeship Committee, she brought on a remarkable number of Trustees. During her time as Chair of the Aldo Leopold Society, Zibby initiated a program of fostering relationships among Trustees, donors, and Cary scientists. Jim is a source of invaluable guidance as part of the President’s Advisory Council, and their daughter, Farran Tozer Brown, is a current Trustee, continuing the family’s legacy of commitment to Cary Institute. 

zibby and jim tozer
Zibby and Jim Tozer. 

The two-year capital campaign was launched in 2020 to raise funds to reimagine the headquarters of one of the nation’s leading ecological research organizations. Staff are global experts in the ecology of cities, freshwaters, forests, infectious diseases, and the impact of climate change on ecological systems. The Tozers’ gift will allow Cary Institute to surpass its original public fundraising goal.

Scott Ulm, Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Co-Chair of the Campaign for Cary, comments, “This is an extraordinary contribution from a family that has been instrumental in championing Cary Institute and its scientists. Zibby has been essential in recruiting new Trustees and founding the Aldo Leopold Society, a patron group that provides vital support to Cary Institute’s research and education programs.”

In recognition of their longtime support and generosity, Cary Institute will be naming the renovated headquarters the Tozer Ecosystem Science Building. An open house celebration is planned for April 8, 2022.

Zibby Tozer comments, “I’ve greatly admired Cary Institute and its work since first learning about its science in 1993. Jim and I have enormous respect for its scientists, who are working to make the world a better place for all of us. We are incredibly impressed with Cary Institute’s legacy of strong leadership, including its wonderful President Joshua Ginsberg and Chairman Scott Ulm, as well as its talented and dedicated Board of Trustees.”

With Jim adding, “We are proud to have this world-class scientific research institute headquartered in the Millbrook area. Our gift is a celebration of the expanding success of Cary Institute and a thank you to the Millbrook community where our family has spent its weekends for 35 glorious years and expect to do so for many years to come. We are honored to make a major legacy gift to an organization whose expertise in such areas as aquatic ecology and disease ecology is of increasing national and global importance.”

Architects Becker + Becker are leading the reimagining of the Tozer Ecosystem Science Building, with oversight from Emeritus Cary Trustee, architect Allan Shope. The original 1975 building, designed by architect Malcolm Wells for the New York Botanical Garden, was one of the nation's first commercial solar buildings. Cary Institute took ownership in 1983. Becker + Becker restored its sawtooth roofline, and have achieved energy efficiency and sustainability goals. Recycled and repurposed materials feature in the redesign, and 100% of the building’s electric needs will be met by an adjacent 700kW solar field.

The Campaign for Cary kicked off in August 2020 with lead gifts from Institute Trustees who were soon joined by more than 200 supporters. The campaign is ongoing through spring of 2022, and is committed to raising an additional $680,000 to complete all aspects of the $14 million project, which is funded in part by Institute resources. The new building will include additional science offices, dedicated space for visiting scientists and postdocs, and conference rooms outfitted with the technology to support virtual and hybrid networking.

Cary Institute President Joshua Ginsberg notes, “The Tozers’ gift is a catalyst for the last phase of the campaign. We are a distinguished, but small, independent institution, and a gift of this magnitude is exceptional.” Concluding that, “Staff are energized to be returning to a highly energy efficient, light filled headquarters with state-of-the-art air handling and the flexible spaces needed for collaborative science.”

Media Contact: Lori Quillen;

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies is an independent nonprofit center for environmental research. Since 1983, our scientists have been investigating the complex interactions that govern the natural world and the impacts of climate change on these systems. Our findings lead to more effective management and policy actions and increased environmental literacy. Staff are global experts in the ecology of: cities, disease, forests, and freshwater.

More on this topic