Gift to Smith and Dartmouth Colleges Advances Opportunities for Women in Engineering
Thanks to a $620,000 gift from an alumna, students at Smith College will now be able to count engineering among the programs of study available to them.
The MacLean Program, a five-year pilot initiative named for Dorothy Jean "D.J." MacLean, will provide funding to enable as many as five Smith students a year to study engineering at Dartmouth College. The students will spend their junior year taking pre-engineering courses at Dartmouth, returning to Smith for their senior year to graduate in their intended majors. They will then spend a fifth year at Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering, earning a professionally accredited bachelor of engineering degree.
Mara Bishop, a physics major and one of the first Smith students to take advantage of the new program, began her Dartmouth studies this summer, with coursework in systems engineering and thermodynamics.
"Since my junior year in high school, I've known that I wanted to pursue engineering," Bishop explains, citing a life-long love of applied science and "problem-solving."
"But I wanted to take art history and literature courses, too, and not have my college experience completely structured by science requirements. I'm thrilled to be able to do both."
Mrs. MacLean, who received a master's degree in English from Smith in 1926, lives in Winnetka, Illinois. She is active as a philanthropist in several areas of education. Her son, Barry MacLean, who helped facilitate the gift to Smith and Dartmouth, received both undergraduate and engineering degrees from Dartmouth and is a member of the Dartmouth Board of Trustees and the Board of Overseers for the Thayer School. He is president and CEO of MacLean-Fogg Company, an engineering firm based in Mundelein, Illinois, founded by his grandfather, that specializes in plastic and metal components.
Both MacLeans have made generous contributions to education, health care, and the arts. Teaching facilities on the Smith campus and a scholarship for Smith students majoring in English both bear the name of Mrs. MacLean, who served as a longtime scholarship chair and president of the North Shore Smith Club. Smith and Dartmouth students have opportunities to serve as interns in MacLean-Fogg plants nationwide. In addition, Mrs. MacLean and her family have endowed the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago.
Officials from both schools describe the Smith/Dartmouth engineering alliance as a "win-win" initiative between two well-matched institutions.
"This is a unique opportunity for all involved -- particularly the students," said Lewis M. Duncan, dean of the engineering school. "Thayer School will have the opportunity to educate bright women students in engineering, while Smith students will have the chance to complement their liberal arts experience with engineering studies at a coeducational institution, and earn a B.E. degree in the process. I applaud the MacLean family for their vision and commitment."
"This program provides Smith students the best of both worlds," Smith Provost John Connolly affirmed. "They receive the critical thinking skills and collaborative learning strategies that are sharpened through a liberal arts education, as well as a solid preparation for advanced study and professional careers in engineering.
"As we constantly reaffirm our commitment to the sciences at Smith," Connolly adds, "the MacLean program will serve as a model. It reinforces the importance of the liberal arts tradition while preparing students in the sciences for successful, practical careers."
Mrs. MacLean, who recalls entering Smith on a 1924 Trustee Fellowship "with feelings of excitement and responsibility," says she is "so pleased to have been present almost at the creation of the new plan for Smith women as engineers."
"Every person involved is a caring person with great experience in education," she adds. "It's a wonderful new program."
Enrolling 2,800 students from every state and 60 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women's college in the United States and is consistently ranked among the nation's best liberal arts colleges. Some 25 percent of Smith students major in the sciences, more than twice the national average.
Dartmouth, the ninth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States, enrolls 4,200 undergraduates, primarily in liberal arts studies, and 1,500 graduate students in medicine, business and engineering. The Thayer School is the nation's oldest professional school of engineering. It enrolls 375 undergraduates and 140 graduate students.
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