The University of Maryland announced that its A. James Clark School of Engineering will become the permanent home of a multi-university program that provides holistic support to exceptionally talented students with financial need, thanks to a $20.6 million investment from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation, headed by Courtney Clark Pastrick.
Active at 11 of the nation’s top engineering institutions, including UMD, the A. James Clark Program Network provides scholarships to outstanding students who share the foundation’s commitments to leadership, innovation and community service in engineering and other disciplines. Re-introduced as the Clark Scholars Program Network, it will encourage collaboration and innovation across participating institutions and with alums.
“Jim Clark would often say, ‘This is our home; we should build it.’ And build it he did. He believed that if you gave a person a chance, they would create greatness. The Clark Scholars Program has given hundreds of students a chance, and the greatness they are creating will shape the world for decades to come. We are excited and honored to carry forward Mr. Clark’s legacy of impact,” said UMD President Darryll J. Pines.
“We are proud to introduce the Clark Scholars Program Network, the first-of-its-kind program to outlive the sunsetting foundation that created it,” said Joe Del Guercio, president and CEO of the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation. “The sense of community between program staff across all 11 university partners is part of what makes this program so unique. The network will forge an even closer-knit community of collaboration among program leaders along with their universities, Clark Scholars Programs, students and alumni.”
Launched in 2016, the Clark Scholars Program combines engineering, business, leadership and community service. The program has supported 591 Clark Scholars across its partner institutions, consistently exceeding national averages for female representation, underrepresented minorities in STEM, and Pell Grant-eligible students enrolled in undergraduate engineering degree programs. Half of Clark Scholars are women, compared to the national engineering student average of 25%, and 46% are underrepresented minorities, compared to 26% nationally. During the 2022–23 academic year, 71% of Clark Scholars were able to pursue their education without taking on private student loans, thanks to the program’s support.
The new network will facilitate forums for sharing best practices and novel ideas; establish a robust alumni network; and host an annual Clark Scholars Summit at partner institutions, including Duke University, the George Washington University, Georgia Tech, Johns Hopkins University, Penn State, Stevens Institute of Technology, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia, Vanderbilt University and Virginia Tech.
“The University of Maryland is proud of its long-standing partnership with the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation, and we are thrilled to carry on its legacy moving forward as the official home of the Clark Scholars Program Network,” said UMD President Darryll J. Pines. “The foundation’s support for scholarships and fellowships has made college education more accessible to students from all backgrounds, and this program’s impact is only just beginning to be realized as our scholars enter the workforce. We look forward to collaborating with our partner institutions as the Clark Scholars Program Network enters its next chapter.”
UMD’s Clark Scholars Program was established as part of Building Together, the foundation’s $219.5 million investment in the University of Maryland, announced in October 2017. Including this newly announced investment, the Clark Foundation and the Clark family have invested over $300 million to build new infrastructure and support students, faculty and research at UMD.
“By translating innovative science into technology solutions, engineering is poised to address critical societal challenges. We are proud to educate the next generation of engineers; the Clark Scholars Program is indispensable in this endeavor,” said Samuel Graham, Jr., dean of the Clark School. “Mr. Clark was a visionary who built a successful business but never lost his connection to his local community. We are proud to carry forward Mr. Clark’s legacy, opening the doors of opportunity for aspiring engineers and continuing his commitment to community service.”