Henry Luce Foundation Grant to Establish STEM Fellowships

January 12, 2009 — The University of Virginia has received a $225,000 grant, from the Clare Boothe Luce Program of the Henry Luce Foundation, to establish two doctoral fellowships for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.

Founded in 1989, the Clare Boothe Luce Program is considered the most significant source of private philanthropy for women in science, mathematics and engineering.

Nationally, women still lag behind men in terms of graduate enrollments and degree conferrals in the so-called "STEM" fields in the U.S. In areas such as physics, electrical, and mechanical engineering, numbers are still particularly low.

"While female enrollments have increased, a great deal of work remains to create additional opportunities for women in STEM fields, particularly those interested in academic careers," said Roseanne Ford, associate vice president for graduate studies and professor of chemical engineering.

Over the last decade, U.Va. has made increasing female representation in STEM disciplines a priority, particularly at the doctoral level, through outreach and mentoring efforts and through the Commission on the Future of the University's focus on expanding support for graduate students.

"The University is grateful to the Clare Boothe Luce Program of the Henry Luce Foundation for its support of our efforts at enhancing the representation of women in STEM disciplines," Ford said.

The fellowships, to begin in the fall of 2010, will be open to applicants to U.Va. doctoral programs in the physical sciences, mathematics and engineering. Each fellowship will provide support for two years, including a $30,000 stipend, tuition and fees, health insurance, travel support and a mentoring fund. The University will provide a matching level of support, for a total of four years of funding per student. Preference will be given to applicants intending to pursue jobs in academia, especially in areas where women are most underrepresented.

"The generosity of the Clare Boothe Luce Program will assist the University in achieving the ambitious goals laid out by the Commission on the Future of the University," said Thomas Skalak, vice president for research. Skalak noted that enhancement of the sciences and engineering and improved support for graduate students are critical to improving the University's overall research enterprise.

— By Melissa Maki