A trustee emeritus pledged $8 million to the School of Engineering and Applied Science to establish a scholarship fund for prospective students.
The scholarship program will provide merit scholarships to 20 elite engineering students selected by a panel of SEAS alumni, faculty and engineers working in the field. Clark Scholars, named after benefactor A. James Clark, will receive internship and study abroad opportunities, as well as the chance to participate in a professional training session over the summer.
“[Clark] wants very much to ensure that the United States remains a leader in graduating engineers with strong practical and leadership abilities,” School of Engineering and Applied Science Dean David Dolling said.
Five of the 20 scholars will be selected for the program in July, and five additional scholars will be chosen each year until the group reaches 20 in August 2014.
Clark is the CEO of Clark Enterprises, Inc., the construction company the University has hired to develop Ivory Tower and South Hall. His company will also be part of the team building the new Science and Engineering Complex, set to break ground in 2011 and estimated to cost $275 million.
The University declined to release the amounts GW has paid to Clark Enterprises for the company’s work.
Patricia Danver, spokeswoman for the Office of Development and Alumni Relations, said the donation to SEAS students, “reflected Mr. Clark’s clearly articulated passion for educating these future leaders as well as his stated philanthropic goals.”
Danver dismissed the gift from Clark as a potential conflict of interest between his personal and professional involvement with the University.
“His relationship with GW, similar to other institutions, is multi-faceted: professional, personal and philanthropic,” Danver said.
Carol Wittmeyer, a consultant for the Meliora Group specializing in higher education fundraising, said it is common for people who work for a university to make contributions to its programs.
“Oftentimes, when a university works with a company, the university develops relationships with the company. It’s common for the company to become vested in the university’s overall vision,” Wittmeyer said.