Engineering alumnus pledges $25 million for teaching and research

The donation is the largest gift in the history of the School of Engineering

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Alumnus Greg Olsen pledged $25 million for recruiting faculty, attracting Ph.D. students and supporting strategic initiatives. Navya Annapareddy | Cavalier Daily

Engineering Dean Craig Benson announced Friday that alumnus Greg Olsen pledged $25 million to the school to be used for recruiting faculty, attracting doctorate students and supporting strategic initiatives. It is the largest gift in the School of Engineering’s history.

When combined with matching funds from the University’s Bicentennial Scholars Fund and Bicentennial Professors Fund, the total impact of Olsen’s donation is $36.5 million.

“With his generous, future-focused investment, Greg is ensuring that U.Va. Engineering’s capacity to attract outstanding scholars and produce future engineering leaders is very strong for generations to come,” Benson said in the announcement.

Of the total amount, $15 million will go toward Olsen Bicentennial Professorships, a $16.5 million endowment will benefit Olsen Graduate Fellowships and the remaining $5 million supports strategic investment fund and the initiatives of Benson and John Scully, materials science and engineering department chair. Such initiatives include providing students with learning experiences, developing courses, recruiting graduate students, promoting diversity programs and updating facilities.

The gift follows the University’s Honor the Future Campaign’s public launch last month. The campaign aims to raise $5 billion and had already reached $2.75 billion by the public launch.  The School of Engineering launched its portion of the campaign Oct. 11 with a goal of $250 million.

Olsen donated $15 million toward the construction of Wilsdorf Hall in 2000, which was the largest gift to the School of Engineering at the time. The building houses the department of materials science and engineering.

Olsen earned his doctorate degree in materials science and engineering from the University in 1971, and he cited his degree and faculty mentor William Jesser as inspiration for his gift to the school.

“U.Va. is my family,” Olsen said. “That’s where I come from, so I just feel closely associated with it, and want the University, the Engineering School and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering to continue to do well.”

CORRECTION: This article previously misstated that the total impact of the gift with matching funds is $36.5 billion. It has been updated to show that the total impact of the gift is $36.5 million.

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