Engineering’s Clark Scholarship Program: Building A Community of Leaders

In the largest one-time gift to undergraduate support in the University’s history, the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation awarded Penn Engineering with a $15 million gift to establish the A. James Clark Scholarship Program.

The program is intended for first-generation college students and those with demonstrated financial need. As such, Clark Scholars will receive personalized mentoring and academic guidance.

Beyond this support and comprehensive financial aid, the Clark Scholarship Program is designed to give students a multifaceted engineering education with a special focus on business, entrepreneurship and the application of technology.

“As part of the Clark Foundation vision,” says Sue Ann Bidstrup Allen, associate dean for Educational Initiatives and Assessment and Clark Scholars Faculty Liaison, “the scholarship program will help prepare leaders for the engineering and business world through unique programming that combines classroom, lab and service learning elements with extracurricular experiences.”

Other aspects of the program include lectures, workshops and lab tours, a paid research internship between their sophomore and junior years, luncheons with Nemirovsky Family Dean Vijay Kumar, and personalized mentoring, career counseling and innovation training.

Given the breadth of academic and extracurricular requirements that Clark Scholars are expected to fulfill, additional emphasis is put on establishing support systems for the cohort.

“The Clark Scholars Program is really about community building,” says Bidstrup Allen. “Clark Scholars will regularly meet with each other as well as with academic advisors to make sure they have everything they need to succeed in this very rigorous program.”

The first Clark Scholars cohort will be established next fall in the Class of 2022. Rather than applying directly to the program, potential Clark Scholars are selected from the overall Engineering applicant pool.

Nadia Williams, associate director of Special Programs in the Office of Research and Academic Services (RAS), is the Clark Scholarship Program’s administrative director. The director of Global and Local Service Learning Programs in RAS, Ocek Eke, will oversee the program’s service learning activities and Jan Van der Spiegel, director of Undergraduate Research, will coordinate the program’s summer research internship.