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May 22, 2007

Donor pledges $25 million for new interdisciplinary graduate fellowships

President John Hennessy announced last week that an anonymous donor has pledged $25 million to jumpstart fundraising efforts for a new $100 million program that will provide fellowships to graduate students doing interdisciplinary research at Stanford.

Speaking to faculty who gathered Thursday in Cubberley Auditorium for the president's annual address to the Academic Council, Hennessy said the Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship program will help meet the need for new sources of research funding.

The goal is to establish 100 fellowships, he said.

Hennessy said recent uncertainties in federal funding have heightened concern about funding for graduate studies. He noted that students engaged in interdisciplinary research often have trouble winning fellowships awarded by individual departments or outside agencies.

"These new fellowships will be available to PhD students pursuing interdisciplinary research both through existing university centers and programs as well as through individually crafted research programs that involve departments across the university," Hennessy said.

The university will accept nominations in January for fellowships starting in fall 2008, he said.

Patricia Gumport, vice provost for graduate education, will oversee the new program.

In an e-mail message, Gumport said fellowships will be awarded on a competitive basis to doctoral students in all seven schools. She said special attention will be given to students engaged in interdisciplinary research in several areas, including human health, the environment and sustainability, international studies, creativity and the arts, and K-12 education.

"It's expected that most of the fellowships will be awarded to continuing doctoral students, as those who will pursue interdisciplinary research are not necessarily known at the outset of their graduate careers," she wrote. "Incoming students will not, however, be excluded from nomination or an award."



Kathleen Sullivan, News Service: (650) 724-5708,


Patricia Gumport, vice provost for graduate education: (650) 723-7727,


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