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Ford CEO Jacques Nasser To Visit Smith on March 29 To Present Gift To Smith President, Trustees and Faculty

In keeping with its strong commitment to advancing opportunities for women in engineering, Ford Motor Company has pledged $10 million to Smith College, the first and only women's college in the country to offer an engineering degree.

The gift will underwrite a significant portion of the cost of a new, state-of-the-art engineering teaching and research facility at the college. A year-long planning process for the Ford building is expected to begin immediately.

The gift, the largest single gift to the college from a corporation, brings Ford's financial commitment to Smith's program to $12.5 million. A previous gift of $2.5 million, awarded last summer, continues to support academic program development, outreach, recruitment and scholarships for Smith engineering students.

"Ford's commitment to our new program has been decisive and pivotal," noted Smith President Ruth J. Simmons. "We are grateful for their interest and support which, from the outset, has enabled us to envision engineering education that will not only benefit our own students but could serve as a model for bringing women into engineering."

Jacques Nasser, CEO and president, Ford Motor Company, said, "Ford Motor Company has made this commitment to Smith as a model for bringing women and minorities into the engineering field and into the workforce. We know that diversity of genders, races, nationalities and beliefs is a great competitive advantage. We can't get to where we want to go without women as leaders."

Simmons will formally accept the Ford gift at a March 29 reception on campus, at which Nasser will be the guest of honor.

Nasser's visit sets the stage for a March 30 ­ 31 summit at Smith titled "Designing the Future," at which CEOs, college presidents, deans, faculty members and foundation representatives will focus on educationally based strategies and policies for encouraging women and other underrepresented groups to pursue careers in technology.

Established in February 1999, Smith's Picker Program in Engineering and Technology is focused on developing broadly educated, well-rounded engineers capable of assuming leadership roles in corporations, non-profit organizations and technology-related fields. The program's unprecedented linkage of engineering education and the liberal arts is designed to attract women not only strong in scientific and technical aptitude but also capable of exceptional creativity and humanistic understanding.

In keeping with the program's approach to engineering as a bridge linking different areas of knowledge, the Ford building will attempt to incorporate some space for the arts and humanities as well as engineering.

"One of the reasons our program is proving attractive to women students and, by extension, to leading corporations, is because we are committed to a deliberate integration of engineering and the liberal arts," explained Domenico Grasso, director of the Picker program.

Smith has long been noted for a number of highly regarded programs in the sciences. Typically, 25 to 30 percent of Smith students major in the sciences, a rate nearly three times larger than the national average. The first class of engineering students entered Smith this fall and is expected to graduate in 2004. They will earn bachelor's degrees in engineering science, enabling them to pursue specialization in a range of technical fields.

More information about Smith's engineering program is available at

Smith College is consistently ranked among the nation's best liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,800 students from every state and 50 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women's college in the United States.

Contacts: Laurie Fenlason, or Gwynne Irvin,

March 27, 2001


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