The money will go to expanding women’s presence in math, sciences
By Katie Davern
The University of Dallas has been awarded the Clare Boothe Luce Grant. The prestigious $290,000 grant will fund full-tuition scholarships for junior and senior-level women in physics, electrical engineering, mathematics and computer science.
Dr. Sally Hicks, associate professor of physics, along with Dr. Charles Eaker, dean of students, applied to the Luce Foundation to receive the grant. They submitted a pre-proposal in February of this year, and after its acceptance, submitted a full proposal at the end of June. On Wednesday, Oct. 22 they were notified that they had received the award.
The $290,000 grant covers 10 full-tuition scholarships for a four-year period. Though they are one-year scholarships, female science students are eligible to apply for them for both their junior and senior years.
Hicks and Eaker believe timing helped UD win the grant. UD recently hired more female faculty members in the science department, and the school currently has a large number of female students in the math and sciences.
The grant is the award of the Clare Boothe Luce Program [CBLP], a program sponsored by the Henry Luce Foundation. A philanthropic organization, the Luce Foundation seeks to bring important ideas to the center of American life by fostering innovation and leadership in academic, policy, religious and art communities. The CBLP, since its first grants in 1989, has become the single most significant source of private support for women in science, mathematics and engineering. The program encourages them to study and teach in the fields.
“The fact [that] there’s a foundation that wants to give money for this purpose, it lets women know … that it’s important having women in those areas,” Eaker commented.
Hicks said that in addition to the scholarship, the other key part of the program is a new initiative to invite successful women scientists to come speak on campus. They aim to have one outside speaker each semester who will give a lecture open to the whole student body. This will also provide students, specifically the female science majors, with an opportunity to meet other women in the sciences.
“It’s to try to give female students an opportunity to discuss to talk to women in the field about their successes, what they’ve done, any obstacles they might have overcome. It’s just to encourage more women, a sort of pipeline thing, to get more women in the pipeline for these majors,” Hicks explained.
The program will also encourage the students to do research and will provide them with opportunities to present their work at conferences, which Hicks says will tie with the university’s Quality Enhancement Plan and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission (SACS) accreditation process.
According to Hicks, the timing of UD’s application to the program was also ideal because the university just began two new science programs. These programs are the re-initiation of the computer science program and the physics-engineering program. Additionally, both of the programs are in areas that are underrepresented by women, the areas that the CBLP prefers to aid.
Hicks said that she especially likes the program in that it applies to juniors and seniors who perhaps did not get as many scholarships when they came in, but who have achieved success as they have gone along. Part of the rules of the grant is that it cannot be used to supplement existing scholarship money — so if someone receives the CBL scholarship, their UD scholarship can then go to someone else.
Additionally, Hicks thinks that having women in the upper level science classes will be encouraging to younger women.
“So if we can get women into the junior and senior status, then we think it will attract more women into [the fields.] Nobody wants to be the first, but when you see others in it and doing well, then I think it’s easier for other people to come along into it.”
Applications will go out in the spring of 2015. Dr. Hicks and Dr. Eaker will send their list of recommended students to the Luce Foundation, who will then make the final selection of the recipients.