The Clark Charitable Foundation has made an $8 million gift to the George Washington University to expand an engineering scholars program that rewards SEAS students with financial assistance, professional development and leadership and networking opportunities.
The Clark Engineering Scholars Program began in 2011 with an $8 million gift from the late A. James Clark, a GW trustee emeritus and Clark Enterprises founder whose contributions to the university included the construction of landmark facilities on the Foggy Bottom Campus, volunteer leadership and philanthropic support.
“We are honored to build on Mr. Clark’s legacy and generosity through the expansion of the Clark Scholars program at the George Washington University,” President and CEO of the Clark Charitable Foundation Joseph Del Guercio said. “By combining financial support with community service and leadership and business training, the Clark Scholars program embodies the core values of Mr. Clark and the Clark Charitable Foundation. We are proud to increase our commitment to support deserving students who will be the next generation of engineering leaders.”
The program prepares scholars for future leadership positions through a range of experiences that include an annual leadership boot camp, a semester abroad, one-on-one mentorship with top SEAS alumni, internships, research opportunities and community service options.
“Jim Clark was an extraordinary individual and a great friend of the George Washington University, as well as a passionate champion of engineering education,” said George Washington President Steven Knapp. “We are deeply grateful to the Clark Charitable Foundation and the Clark family for building in this way on Jim’s commitment to our students.”
Sixteen alumni scholars already have graduated and have gone on to graduate programs or have begun working in the government and in top engineering and technology firms.
“The Clark Engineering Scholars Program is a uniquely and wisely designed scholarship and leadership development program,” said David Dolling, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. “Our Clark Scholars benefit not just from financial support for their studies but from internships, study abroad, leadership training and mentorship by distinguished engineering alumni. They also benefit from the steady hand of the program’s director, Professor Murray Snyder, a retired U.S. Navy nuclear submarine captain who models leadership for them. We’re extremely grateful to the Clark Charitable Foundation for expanding the program that Mr. Clark established to help us forge engineering leaders.”
Junior Colby Bott, a Clark Engineering Scholar majoring in civil engineering and minoring in sustainability, said the program has enhanced his GW career, particularly thanks to the community the scholars form. They offer support and collaboration, he said, especially when working through a tricky problem or tough design project.
Attending scholar events with industry leaders is also refreshing and inspiring, he added.
“One event in particular during my freshman year, the scholars were offered the opportunity to tour the new Science and Engineering Hall during its final phases of construction,” Mr. Bott said. “This was my first site tour, and putting on the hard hat and exploring the building in process while being able to ask questions was incredibly formative. Those sort of experiences can set you on your career path, and I’m incredibly excited to be doing more with my degree.”
Mr. Bott, a Plymouth, Mass., native, will intern this summer with Clark Construction Group and said he hopes to land in the construction industry after graduating.
“I know graduates who got to work on the new Smithsonian,” he said. “And to be able to show up every day to a project as beautiful as the National Museum of African American History and Culture and to help facilitate its progress while watching it transform sounds absolutely incredible.”
This story was originally published in GW Today.