COLLEGE PARK, Maryland — Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday joined University of Maryland leadership to announce a $219 million gift from the A. James Clark Foundation, named for a former engineering student who attended the College Park campus on a scholarship in the 1940s.
The donation is among the largest investment any public institution in the 21st century has ever received, according to the university.
“It’s an investment in the future of young people … this dramatically increases the number of scholarships for bright, talented, hardworking students,” University of Maryland, College Park President Wallace D. Loh said.
The gift will be used to create faculty chairs, support additional fellowships and build additional workspaces for students at the university — and generate $100 million in financial need-based scholarships.
Major scholarship programs, such as the A. James Clark Scholars Program, and the Clark Opportunity Scholarship for Transfer Students, will receive more funding, influencing the academic careers of over 50 engineering students.
Courtney Clark Pastrick, the daughter of James Clark, said that her father’s ability to remember his personal challenges while in college allowed him to empathize with the needs of other students. James Clark, an engineering college alum at Maryland and founder of Clark Construction in Bethesda, often hitchhiked to school and relied on financial assistance to get an education.
Before he died in March 2015, Clark donated well over $40 million to a variety of projects at his namesake A. James Clark School of Engineering on the College Park campus.
“I am from a low-income family and if it wasn’t for the Clark Opportunity Scholarship I wouldn’t be able to attend the University of Maryland,” Faraz Burni, a junior chemical engineering major from Silver Spring, Maryland, told the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service.
“Because of this scholarship I am able to pursue my dream to…become a research scientist,” said Burni, 20.
Last month, the foundation gifted Virginia Tech, another flagship university, with $15 million toward the A. James Clark Scholars Program there. The donation ranked as the largest scholarship gift ever made to that university.
Public officials and university leaders, including Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch and University System of Maryland Chancellor Robert Caret attended the announcement. Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller Jr. was unable to attend the ceremony due to recent knee surgery, and sent a video congratulating the school.