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Stanford Report, May 10, 2000

Gift of $20 million will aid women in sciences

An anonymous donor has given Stanford $20 million to help boost the university's efforts at attracting and retaining women faculty and students in science and engineering, Provost John Hennessy announced Friday.

The gift will create three endowed funds to be known as the Gabilan Funds, in accordance with the donor's wish. The income from these funds will support three areas, each with a preference for women: graduate fellowships in science and engineering; a new provost's discretionary fund to attract science and engineering faculty; and an undergraduate engineering diversity fund.

"We're delighted to receive this gift, which will go a long way toward leveraging our ability to attract the best women in science and engineering, both as graduate students and as faculty members," Hennessy said.

The gift provides $10 million to the Stanford Graduate Fellowships in Science and Engineering. Because gifts to that program are matched one-for-one, the anonymous donor's gift will result in 34 annual Gabilan Fellowships for graduate students, with preference given to women doctoral candidates. Stanford Graduate Fellowships in Science and Engineering reduce the university's dependence on federal support for graduate students. They also allow students to choose the most promising course of research rather than having to select a project based on the vagaries of available funding.

The donor also is providing $8 million to endow The Gabilan Provost's Discretionary Fund with a preference for women and with special attention to engineering and the sciences. The endowment will generate about $400,000 a year and is aimed at attracting and retaining highly sought-after faculty, providing them, for example, with research support funding and start-up funds to buy new laboratory equipment.

"This is a wonderful gift," said Pat Jones, vice provost for faculty development and professor of biological sciences.

"Progress in increasing the number of women faculty in science and engineering at Stanford and elsewhere has been steady, but slower than we would like in some fields. This gift will certainly enhance our efforts to hire outstanding senior women faculty and, by endowing Stanford graduate fellowships, will boost the number of promising young women in the pipeline."

The third part of the gift, $2 million, will endow The Gabilan Undergraduate Engineering Diversity Program Fund in the School of Engineering, with a preference for programs that prepare, encourage and support women as they pursue their education leading to careers in engineering. The gift will help provide more stable funding for existing and future programs aimed at supporting women and minorities interested in science and engineering. The programs include the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships, which give students a $5,000 summer stipend for working on a lab research project in collaboration with a faculty member; tutorial programs; and the Stanford Summer Engineering Academy, a program for incoming freshmen interested in pursuing an engineering or science degree. SR