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$25 million gift from Penny and Jim Coulter to Dartmouth launches new $100 million program
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$25 million gift from Penny and Jim Coulter to Dartmouth launches new $100 million program

Dartmouth has launched a $100 million program, Dartmouth STEM-X, to increase access and leadership opportunities for historically underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and prepare the next generation of leaders in these fields, President Philip J. Hanlon announced at a forum for alumni, technology leaders, and entrepreneurs in San Francisco.

A $25 million gift from Penny and James Coulter will serve as a foundational component of Dartmouth STEM-X, said Hanlon. STEM-X is the latest in a series of historic investments by Dartmouth in STEM academic programs, student and faculty recruitment, and facilities made over the past five years. The Coulters’ gift to support STEM-X brings total investment in the program to $60 million; Dartmouth is focused on raising $40 million in additional funds to fully endow the program.

Jim Coulter is a billionaire businessman, who is the cofounder of private equity firm TPG Capital- originally known as the Texas Pacific Group.

“We are acting on two contrary truths—American innovation benefits greatly when diverse perspectives are applied to a problem, and yet the pipeline of advanced-degree recipients in STEM from underrepresented groups falls far short of representation levels in our society,” said Hanlon.

 “The Coulters join us in tackling this challenge head-on with the goal of dramatically improving the U.S. innovation ecosystem through the development of a broad-based and diverse talent pool in the STEM fields.”

The Coulters’ gift will scale several pilot and discipline-specific initiatives under one university-wide strategy, bringing together participants who are committed to increasing the representation of otherwise historically underrepresented groups in STEM-related advanced-degree programs, policy roles, and industry. With that goal in mind, the gift will also establish and endow an undergraduate scholarship program with the goal of enhancing STEM participation by students from underrepresented groups.

Speaking at the event, Jim Coulter, co-founder of TPG, a global alternative asset management firm, and vice chair emeritus of Dartmouth’s Board of Trustees, said that his family’s gift to support Dartmouth STEM-X is focused on the future.

“The stakes for society are high. We must channel the creativity and innovative thinking of today’s students to shape the creation and implementation of new technologies,” said Jim Coulter. “To meet the challenges of tomorrow we need all the talent we can muster and teach. Dartmouth can do its part by embracing diversity as we recruit and educate future STEM leaders.”

“Jim and I are heartened that Dartmouth is stepping forward to prioritize the development of a strong pipeline of diverse STEM talent,” said Penny Coulter. “Through this gift we hope to help support an equitable system of STEM education that removes obstacles and propels scores of students into impactful careers.”

In the U.S. today, Black, Latinx, and Native Americans are underrepresented in STEM fields, as are women and first-generation students, directly impacting the quality of the national scientific research enterprise and its potential to improve society, say experts in the STEM fields. The shortage has far-reaching implications in the private sector, public policy, and in academia.

“The institutions in the Association of American Universities (AAU) are on the leading edge of innovation, scholarship, and solutions that contribute to scientific progress, economic development, security, and well-being,” said Barbara R. Snyder, president of the AAU. “The AAU will remain at the forefront of discovery only if—collectively—we can close the diversity gap in STEM fields. Dartmouth, along with many other AAU universities, is showing what universities can do to grow the pipeline of young scholars from groups traditionally underrepresented in the STEM fields.”

Dartmouth STEM-X will harness the power of existing programs across the institution to create an integrated approach to supporting all students’ learning and achievement and to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups who pursue advanced degrees and leadership roles in research, policy, and business.

“Few institutions are tackling this national challenge at the core of their teaching and learning mission, and fewer still are looking at it systematically, across the comprehensive university,” said Dean of Thayer School of Engineering Alexis Abramson. “High school students who are serious about STEM should know universities like Dartmouth are deeply committed to creating pathways that will ensure their success.”

Over the past two years, several Dartmouth alumni have made landmark gifts that are already influencing student and faculty recruitment and retention and teaching and research.

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