Washington, D.C.’s Howard University has received a $10 million gift, the largest in its 153-year history, to expand a science and technology scholars program that was started to increase the presence of minorities in these fields, according to the Washington Post.
The donation, which comes from the Karsh Family Foundation, will go toward the university’s Karsh STEM Scholars Program, which provides scholarships covering all tuition and fees for about 30 students per year, according to NBC News. The program, formerly known as the Bison STEM Scholars Program, was founded in 2017 to diversify STEM professions and “increase the number of underrepresented minorities earning a Ph.D. or combined M.D./Ph.D. in a STEM discipline.”
Wayne A.I. Frederick, the president of Howard Unvieristy, says in a statement to the Washington Business Journal, “When we created this program, with the support of the Board of Trustees, we envisioned building a model program to how higher education can serve as a pipeline to diversify STEM fields nationally, but we knew it wouldn’t be sustainable without external resources. This gift will ensure that Howard can train the nation’s brightest students who desire to earn their Ph.D. or combined M.D./Ph.D. for generations to come.”
Frederick also tells NBC News that the gift is reflective of the program’s early success.
“We were able to attract highly qualified students who can actually get into any major university in the country…but thought the idea of pursuing a degree in STEM with compatriots who look like them and had similar lived experiences would be attractive.”
Frederick also hopes that graduates of Howard’s STEM scholars program will help bring diverse perspectives to a field that, he says, suffers from cultural and racial blindspots.
“Having African American students who are culturally competent and sensitive to the needs of the broader population allows us to develop our technologies and apply them in a way that does not harm those communities as they have in the past,” he tells NBC News.