A visionary $15 million gift from the Clark Charitable Foundation to Vanderbilt University will establish the Clark Scholars Program at the School of Engineering. The program will enable talented undergraduate students to become engineering pioneers who reflect the character, passion and vision of A. James Clark.
This fall will see the first cohort of 10 students, chosen from the incoming first-year class; a new cohort will be chosen from each subsequent first-year class. By fall 2021, the Clark Scholars Program is expected to be 40 students strong. The program, which becomes part of the university’s Opportunity Vanderbilt initiative, will provide scholarship support to exceptional students with financial need and from underrepresented backgrounds.
“Empowering talented young people through scholarships is at the heart of Vanderbilt’s mission and purpose,” Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos said. “The Clark Scholars Program will transform the lives of these students, producing future leaders who will contribute to society in meaningful and significant ways. My hope is that this gift will compel other visionaries to invest in scholarships and the transformative power of education.”
The program will emphasize four key components—engineering excellence, business acumen, service learning and leadership—characteristics that the late A. James Clark embodied and wished to cultivate in others. Clark was the president and CEO of Clark Construction, a Maryland-based firm with a national reach. Forbes magazine once called him the “king of concrete.” He died in 2015.
“The Clark Scholars Program at Vanderbilt will help carry on my father’s legacy,” said Courtney Clark Pastrick, board chair of the Clark Charitable Foundation. She is also a member of Vanderbilt’s Board of Trust. “He firmly believed in the power of education to develop young leaders from all walks of life and how engineering leaders can change our world for the better. We look forward to meeting the first Vanderbilt Clark Scholars this fall.”
“Our faculty are doing amazing research and teaching — creating opportunities for learning and finding answers to big societal problems,” said Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente. “We designed our new Engineering and Science Building to encourage students as innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders. By blending engineering scholarship with leadership planning, the Clark Scholars Program aligns perfectly with our pursuits.”
“We are proud to establish the Clark Scholars Program at Vanderbilt,” said President and CEO of the Clark Charitable Foundation Joseph Del Guercio. “With a focus on underrepresented students, the program’s combination of scholarships with community service and leadership and business training reflects the vision of Mr. Clark and the values of the Clark Charitable Foundation.”
Philippe Fauchet, dean of the School of Engineering who holds the Dean’s Chair in Engineering, noted that the Clark Scholars Program is a first-of-its-kind opportunity to develop a cohort of engineering leaders.
“Time and time again, we have turned to engineers to solve great problems facing society. There’s a renewed vigor at Vanderbilt for innovation and entrepreneurship,” Fauchet said. “The continued strength and ascent of the School of Engineering, combined with the strategic design of this program, will position Clark Scholars to facilitate great change.”