Largest Gift in Howard University History to Fund Science and Technology

ByLauren Lumpkin

A $10 million gift — the largest in Howard University’s roughly 150-year history — will allow the school to expand a science and technology scholars program that was started to increase the presence of minorities in those fields, the school announced Wednesday.

The donation comes from the California-based Karsh Family Foundation and will provide funding for scholarships for about 30 students studying science, technology, engineering and math, widely known as STEM.

“It says that our strategy to really focus on academic excellence — to bring innovative programs that answer the nation’s question of the lack of diversity in the STEM discipline” has been widely recognized,said Wayne A.I. Frederick, the university’s president.

Howard has contributed significantly to the growth in black students’ attainment of advanced degrees in STEM fields. Between 2013 and 2017, the school awarded 130 science and engineering doctorate degrees, the most of any historically black college or university, according to data from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.

The Bison STEM Scholars program will be renamed after the Karsh family, the university said. Bruce and Martha Karsh said in a statement that they are “proud to be able to help Howard attract and support the best and brightest students for its already renowned program.”

The specialty program admits about 30 new students a year, each of whom are offered full scholarships, research internships, opportunities to study abroad and professional mentoring. Frederick said the $10 million will be used for administrative costs, student advising services and financial assistance — particularly for students who want to study abroad but can’t afford passports or other necessities.

“A lot of these students are Pell Grant recipients, so they don’t have that disposable cash to do some of those other things,” Frederick said, referring to federal grants that go to students from low-income families.
The Karshes’ donation will also create the Lomax KIPP scholarship program, named after the chief executive officer and president of the United Negro College Fund, Michael L. Lomax. The award will cover the costs that remain after financial aid — including housing, meal plans and books — for two KIPP graduates who enroll at Howard. KIPP is a national network of public charter K-12 schools in underserved communities; seven of its campuses are in the District.
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