Bicentennial Scholars Fund matches $15 million gift for new Engineering School scholars program

Program to receive $30 million in support


The initial cohort of Clark Scholars matriculates next fall. 

Courtesy University of Virginia

A $15 million gift from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation has been matched dollar-for-dollar by the University’s Bicentennial Scholars Fund leading to a total of $30 million to support the implementation of the Clark Scholars Program in School of Engineering and Applied Science. The program was announced in September. 

The A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation is an initiative supporting a number of causes according to the late A. James Clark’s wishes. Among them are community and educational opportunities in the Washington, D.C. area, veteran support and engineer development.

Clark went to school on an engineering scholarship, according to the foundation’s website, and went on to create the Clark Construction Group. The foundation continues his dedication to developing future engineering leaders by investing in collegiate engineering education at various institutions.

The Clark Scholars Program will support students from underserved backgrounds.

“When we say underserved, we’re talking about all economically disadvantaged. We’re talking about racial diversity, gender diversity … , geography … , the disabled, first generation college students,” said John Gates, associate dean of diversity and inclusion at the Engineering School. “We view diversity very, very broadly as excellence expressing itself through the intersections of everyone’s perspectives and experiences.”

The first cohort of 15 students will arrive in the summer of 2018 for an eight to 10 week bridge program, according to Gates.  

“We will have 15 students for the first four years, and then we will take 20 students accepted to the program until we have an on-Grounds cohort of 80 students,” Gates said.

The Clark Scholars will take business courses to earn a business certificate, study abroad for a semester, spend two January Terms developing work within the community and attend monthly seminars to engage with industry, University and government leaders, according to Gates. 

“It’s business, it’s international experience, it’s a community of learning here,” said Zak Richards, senior director of advancement at the School of Engineering. “[It’s not just] a strong engineering education, but it's enhanced with all of these other academic and co-curricular activities.”

The Bicentennial Scholars Fund is a scholarship matching program of $100 million pulled from the University’s Strategic Investment Fund. Gifts ranging from $100,000 to $1 million, payable over five years, will be matched 50 cents on every dollar. For gifts over $1 million, payable over three years, the gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar with money drawn from the Bicentennial Scholars Fund, according to the Bicentennial Scholars Fund website.  

“Other institutions [also] received $15 million,” Assoc. Dean for Advancement Niles Eggleston said. “What differentiates ours, is that we received the Bicentennial match for that. $30 million provides twice the impact.”

Richards called attention to the long-term impact of the Clark Scholars Program.

“Securing the gift is exciting, but the great moment will be five years from now when we shake hands with that first cohort of Clark Scholars as they graduate. That’s what I’m really looking forward to,” Richards said.  

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