Generous gift supports graduate fellowships
ON THE GREEN | An alumnus who wishes to remain anonymous has made an unprecedented investment in the future of graduate education at UD, with a gift of $10 million to fund graduate fellowships in the Department of Chemical Engineering.
It is the largest gift to the University from an individual since 1995 and the largest outright gift ever to the College of Engineering.
“This is an incredible gift,” UD President Patrick Harker says. “It will elevate UD’s chemical engineering program—already one of the best in the country—by helping us recruit the world’s most talented doctoral students and fund discovery and innovation on a precedent-setting scale.
“Gifts like this can remake departments, colleges, entire universities. We couldn’t be more grateful.”
A. Gilchrist Sparks, chairman of the Board of Trustees, calls the donation “a strong endorsement not only of the Department of Chemical Engineering, but of the vision laid out by President Harker in the University’s strategic plan, the Path to ProminenceTM, for the University to be recognized as a premier research and graduate university. We are grateful for this donor’s leadership and generosity, as well as the donor’s commitment to a key University priority to provide full support for our graduate students.”
The donation will support endowed fellowships for about 20 incoming chemical engineering doctoral students for their first two semesters at UD, which is a significant honor for a scholar. In turn, it will allow monies typically spent to fund these students to be reallocated for other departmental priorities, further expanding the impact of the gift. After the fellows’ first two semesters, they will complete their studies with funding available through research grants in their area of focus.
According to Norman Wagner, the Alvin B. and Julia O. Stiles Professor of Chemical Engineering and chairperson of the department, the magnitude of the gift sets a new standard, placing UD on par with peer institutions.
“This groundbreaking gift greatly enhances and enriches our ability to meet our department’s mission of creating knowledge, educating students and serving society in the coming years,” Wagner says. “We are immensely thankful to this donor for believing so strongly in the impact our students have, not only on our University but in the world at large.”
The Department of Chemical Engineering already offers world-class faculty and facilities, ranking within the top 10 programs in the nation. It consistently is one of the largest producers of chemical engineering doctorates in the U.S. and among the leading chemical engineering departments in research funding. The department’s faculty includes 13 winners of the National Science Foundation CAREER or equivalent awards, 13 named professors, three members of the National Academy of Engineering and three Francis Alison Professors, the University’s top faculty honor.
The addition of endowed graduate fellowships is expected to enable the department and the college to improve rankings among peer institutions and attain greater levels of prominence, both nationally and internationally.
“This is a transformational gift for chemical engineering, the College of Engineering and the University,” Dean Michael Chajes says. “It allows us to compete for the most talented graduate students worldwide, an integral goal of the college’s strategic plan.
“The gift is also a wonderful endorsement of the many great things that are happening in chemical engineering and throughout campus. We are most grateful to the donor for helping to propel us further along on the Path to Prominence.”
Article by Karen B. Roberts