Lafayette will build on its outstanding record of success in supporting women students in the STEM fields through a $150,000 grant from the Clare Boothe Luce Program. The project also is receiving significant funding from Heidi Ludwick Hanson ’91 and Daniel Hanson.
Over the next three years, more than 40 women engineering students will receive opportunities for research experiences and mentoring beginning early in their college careers. Each will be awarded a 10-week stipend, fringe benefits, and campus housing to do research with a faculty mentor during the summer.
Selected through a competitive process and designated as Clare Boothe Luce Research Scholars, the students also will help organize and participate in events hosted by Lafayette’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.
The CBL Program adds to a large array of opportunities Lafayette students in all fields have to engage in research with faculty. It complements a successful initiative, supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, that gives students in the life sciences opportunities for research experiences. It also augments the EXCEL Scholars program, through which more than 160 students of all majors work closely each year with faculty members on research projects while receiving a stipend. Many of these collaborations lead to students’ participation in professional conferences and co-authorship of peer-reviewed articles.
“We are very grateful to the Clare Boothe Luce Program and the Henry Luce Foundation,” says President Alison Byerly. “Lafayette shares Clare Boothe Luce’s vision for encouraging women to pursue careers in science and engineering, and I believe her life and achievements will serve as an inspiration for a new generation of women leaders here. We are also very grateful to Heidi and Daniel Hanson for their steadfast, visionary support of the College.”
The Hansons’ support for the CBL Research Scholars comes via a major endowment they established to enhance diversity at the College. Their philanthropy has also included grants through the Ludwick Family Foundation. In 2011, they were inducted into the College’s Société d’Honneur, which recognizes exceptional lifetime generosity on the part of alumni, parents, and friends.
The further integration of the liberal arts and engineering, a rare combination of degree programs that distinguishes Lafayette, is one of three main areas of emphasis, or pillars, of the College’s $400 million Live Connected, Lead Change campaign, the most ambitious fundraising effort in Lafayette’s history.
The Luce grant represents national recognition for colleges and universities that do an exceptional job of supporting women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. At Lafayette, women engineering students participate in research opportunities at a significantly higher rate than their male peers. They also benefit from mentoring from a relatively large number of women faculty members. The proportion of full-time women faculty in engineering is 22 percent, far higher than the national average of 14 percent. Four of the five department heads and program chairs in the Engineering Division are women.
Of the 200 students in Lafayette’s latest incoming class who have indicated an interest in pursuing a major in engineering, 32 percent are women, significantly higher than the national average of 19.9 percent, according to the American Society of Engineering Education.
Scott Hummel, William A. Jeffers Director of the Engineering Division, and Lauren Sefcik Anderson ’04, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, will direct the program.
“The Clare Boothe Luce Program grant will have a significant impact on our women students, providing experiences and guidance that will prepare them for leadership in engineering,” Hummel says.