(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – Two prominent University of Maryland alumni have pledged donations totaling $60 million to their alma mater which will fund scholarships for engineering students and business school and performing arts program. While officials say the university has not yet actually received the money, which was announced Feb. 3, the two $30 million donations will be the largest one-time contributions of private money in the state’s and public institution’s histories.
“We have long relied on and received generous state support, but that is no longer enough to pay for the level of quality the state of Maryland needs and deserves,” university President C.D. Mote said at a press conference. “To continue to move forward, and to ensure that all qualified students have the opportunity to get a high quality education regardless of financial condition, we must have a solid philanthropic base as well.”
The donations came from developer Robert H. Smith and general contractor A. James Clark, both graduates of the class and 1950 and members of the University of Maryland College Park Foundation Board of Trustees. University officials chose Smith and Clark to co-chair a fund raising effort, which has already raised more than $100 million and is still in planning stages, because they have historically been the school’s largest supporters.
Clark’s gift will aid in scholarship support for the A. James Clark School of Engineering, particularly to attract minorities and women. In 1994, Clark, a civil engineering graduate, made a $15 million contribution to the engineering school which was subsequently named in his honor. Clark is the chairman and CEO of Clark Enterprises Inc. which owns Clark Construction, one of the nation’s largest general contractors that built the sporting arenas MCI Center and Oriel Park at Camden Yards.
Smith’s gift will provide support for students, faculty and academic programs in the Robert H. Smith School of Business, which in 1998 he contributed the naming gift, and the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, named after his wife. Smith is chairman of both Charles E. Smith Realty, which built Crystal City in Virginia and Chares E. Smith Residential, which built several apartment buildings around the District.
Students at Maryland say they are happy about the donations which will have positive implications on them and that it will help the university gain rank.
“I think it will be great because nothing attracts quality students better than more scholarships,” said mechanical engineering major Josh Crone.
Other students said the money would help relieve some of their financial burdens.
“Well if it really is going towards scholarships, then it’s great because tuition is going out of control here especially for out of state students,” said sophomore Trevor Lankford, a mechanical engineering major. “It seems like all the other money the school gets just goes towards new construction.”
Lankford said he also hopes there will be extra money left over to fund programs that will give hands on experience to underclassmen.
“I’m about 60 credits in, and still taking prerequisite classes,” Lankford said. “I think I know what I want to do but I can only guess because I’m not involved in any real engineering and haven’t had any real life opportunities to gain experience.”
Senior marketing major Moranne Rauer said that donation will help make her more knowledgeable and give her tools to more easily find a job.
“I think it’s great for students in the business school because it means we will have more resources that will enhance our education,” Rauer said. There will be more online resources for classes, better teachers and more interactive learning in the lecture halls.”
Some faculty members say they think the donation will help get the ball rolling in alumni donating.
“These kinds of gifts make a significant difference not only to campus programs that are designed in the gift but also to the whole fund raising campaigns of the university,” said Senate Chair Arthur Popper, who also teaches biology. “While I’m not an expert on gifts, my sense is that one or a few large gifts will help generate others.”
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