University of Maryland School of Engineering Announces Unprecedented Investment from A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation

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The University of Maryland announced today a transformative investment of $219,486,000 from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation. Building Together: An Investment for Maryland will increase college access and affordability, inspire the next generation of engineering leaders, and spark innovations that tackle today’s most daunting problems.

This investment, the largest in UMD history and among the largest to a public research institution in the 21st century, will propel UMD and the A. James Clark School of Engineering to the forefront of education and research by establishing and funding an array of need-based scholarships, graduate fellowships, distinguished faculty chairs, and operational and capital projects.

“This investment is historic in scope and transformational in impact, and I do not say this lightly,” UMD President Wallace D. Loh said. “Access to higher education is essential, if we are to solve urgent national problems. Creating this path for the most promising students in engineering and other fields may well prove to be Mr. Clark’s greatest legacy.”

“Without question, my dad loved the University of Maryland,” said Courtney Clark Pastrick, board chair of the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation. “College Park was instrumental in educating and equipping him as an engineer and successful businessman. However, his legacy is in his community engagement and generosity. Our family and the Foundation look forward to seeing the impact of this gift in the decades to come.”

"Thousands of University of Maryland students already wake up in dorms or study in academic halls that bear the mark of the Clark name," said Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. "Today, the Clark spirit of generosity is on full display yet again. With this new investment in STEM education, the Clark family and the Clark Foundation are ensuring that this university continues to be a national and global leader, where the next fearless idea is developed."

The gift was announced at an event today with Loh, Pastrick, Governor Hogan, Mrs. Alice B. Clark, Clark Foundation President Joe Del Guercio, Maryland Speaker of the House Michael Busch, and Chancellor of the University System of Maryland Robert Caret. More than 150 students who have received previous scholarships from the Clark Foundation were also in attendance.

Increasing College Access & Affordability

Access to an affordable college education to promising students has guided the Clark family’s longstanding investments. New scholarships and fellowships made possible by this donation build on the Foundation’s—and Mr. Clark’s—fundamental belief in connecting effort with opportunity, by helping those who demonstrate determination and perseverance.

The Clark Challenge for Maryland Promise, a campus-wide scholarship matching program that engages the philanthropic community, aims to generate a $100 million fund to support students with financial need. In partnership with the university, the Clark Challenge grant will catalyze support from alumni and friends to ensure an education for high-performing students with the greatest need.

Building Together: An Investment for Maryland will also help expand the Clark Opportunity Transfer Scholarship Program, which supports transfer students from Maryland community colleges to pursue their engineering education at UMD. The investment will also support high-performing undergraduate engineering students with financial need with the launch of the A. James Clark Scholars Program, the Foundation’s signature academic program combining engineering, business, leadership and community service. At the University of Maryland, A. James Clark Scholars will also participate in the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges Scholars Program, charging students to solve some of engineering's greatest challenges in the 21st century, from sequestering carbon to reverse-engineering the brain.

Building the Next Generation of Engineering Leaders

“This investment will transform the university, and especially engineering,” said Clark School Dean and Farvardin Professor of Engineering Darryll J. Pines. “For today’s engineering students, this gift promises not only to open doors to a world-class engineering education, but also to inspire hearts and empower minds through the example set by Mr. Clark. By learning about the industry leader and philanthropist, students will feel driven to develop solutions to help people lead better lives.”

The investment will fuel innovation that paves the way for engineering excellence at UMD by expanding the Clark School’s innovative research through programs, facilities and by recruiting promising students and faculty. The investment will also substantially increase the number of graduate fellows through the establishment of the Clark Doctoral Fellows Program.

Solving Today’s Problems

Building Together: An Investment for Maryland will also enable UMD to support faculty working in the interdisciplinary fields that are critical to the knowledge-based economy of the future, such as data analytics, neuroscience, virtual and augmented reality, and cybersecurity.

Funded by the Foundation, five Clark Leadership Chairs with shared appointments in colleges across campus will conduct important cross-cutting research on emerging issues that are most pressing to the future of our global society. The Foundation will also establish eight Clark Distinguished Chairs, faculty positions that directly address the most critical research areas set forth by the 2020 Strategic Plan for the Clark School.

To learn more about Building Together: An Investment for Maryland, visit

What People Are Saying About This Transformative Investment

“For generations, public universities like the University of Maryland have opened doors to students with high potential and promise,” said Joe Del Guercio, president and CEO of the Foundation. “We know that cost remains a barrier for too many students especially first-generation college students. The Clark Foundation is committed to ensuring that college is both accessible and affordable; as a result, need-based aid and financial support to students are a cornerstone of this investment.”

“One of the most important contributions to the quality, stature, and impact of a major university is its faculty. The Clark Leadership Chairs will make it possible to attract and retain the very best people in critically important fields such as neuroscience, virtual reality, cybersecurity, and big data—fields that are key to solving our greatest societal issues,” said Mary Ann Rankin, Senior Vice President and Provost of UMD. “The A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation’s investment in Clark Leadership Chairs will catapult the university forward in these critically important fields, while touching programs across the entire university.”

Building Together: An Investment for Maryland Programs

  • The Clark Challenge for Maryland Promise: Gifts from other donors in support of this new program will provide need-based scholarships to hundreds of students every year from all majors. If fully matched, this program aims to generate a $100 million fund to support students with financial need.
  • A. James Clark Scholars Program: A new program providing scholarships to 40 high-performing engineering undergraduates. Reflecting the Clarks’ commitment to the local community, priority will be given to in-state students.
  • Clark Opportunity Transfer Scholars Program: The endowment of a pilot program which will provide need-based scholarships to 40 engineering majors coming from Maryland community colleges.
  • Clark Distinguished Chairs: The creation of eight faculty chairs for stellar engineering researchers that directly address engineering’s most critical research areas, such as additive and advanced manufacturing, autonomy and robotics, and energy and sustainability.
  • Clark Leadership Chairs: The establishment and endowment of five faculty chairs throughout the campus in interdisciplinary fields that are critical to the knowledge-based economy of the future, such as data analytics, neuroscience, virtual and augmented reality, and cybersecurity.
  • Clark Doctoral Fellows Program: An endowment supporting 30 additional first-year doctoral fellowships, allowing the Clark school to increase research productivity and graduate more outstanding Ph.Ds every year.
  • New engineering building: A new space that secures the university’s stronghold in engineering innovation by helping recruit and retain world-class faculty and facilitating collaborations between disciplines with institutional and business partners.
  • IDEA Factory: An expansion of the Clark School’s signature Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building which will foster innovation with new cutting-edge labs, start-up space, and areas dedicated to cross-disciplinary research.
  • Mpact: The 125th Anniversary Fearless Ideas Mpact Challenge is the A. James Clark School of Engineering’s “moonshot” engineering program to spur innovative engineering research solutions. Commemorating the school's 125th Anniversary in 2019, this program provides funding for Clark School teams to develop solutions to engineering problems and innovations in engineering research that have the potential to improve the lives of millions of people. 



Published October 4, 2017