Oxy Receives Science Endowment
Occidental College has received a $750,000 grant from the Fletcher Jones Foundation to establish an endowment for science scholarships that will fund student research.
The Fletcher Jones Foundation Scholars Program will target college juniors and support research over 16 months.
“This award will empower our best science students to achieve a new level of accomplishment, one that will fuel their pursuit of excellence during a lifetime of scientific discovery,” Occidental President Theodore R. Mitchell said. “We believe this will become the most prestigious undergraduate scholarship awarded on campus.”
“The most critical aspect of this award is the benefit of continuous support and mentorship around a complex science research project, enabling students to concentrate on research instead of looking for a temporary job,” added Kenyon Chan, vice president of academic affairs and dean of the college. “The Fletcher Jones Foundation Scholars Program will strengthen Occidental’s commitment to providing equality of access to the best educational opportunities for all students, while becoming a powerful springboard for student achievement every academic year in perpetuity.”
The Fletcher Jones Foundation Scholars Program is based on a successful five-year program funded by the Beckman and Norris foundations. To date, eight scholars have graduated Phi Beta Kappa with honors from the college and are pursuing medical or doctoral degrees at some of the nation’s top institutions.
Undergraduate research in a wide range of academic disciplines has evolved into a hallmark of the Occidental liberal arts experience since it was first offered in the 1960s. Since 1998, 1,500 students have taken part in academic-year research, mostly in the sciences. About 600 students have conducted summer research during the same span.
Science is one of Occidental’s many strengths. Of its 1,850 students, one-fifth are science majors. In the past decade, Occidental students have won two Rhodes Scholarships, three Fulbright Fellowships, four Marshall and 21 Goldwater scholarships, a dozen National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships, two National Physics Science Consortium Fellowships, a Watkins Minority and a Howard Hughes Pre-Doctoral Fellowship.
In August 2003, Occidental opened the $16 million Hameetman Science Center, offering state-of-the-art research and teaching facilities for physicists, geologists and environmental science. The center marks the culmination of a 15-year effort to equip the college with the most sophisticated facilities for the study of science. Following the construction of the $7 million Bioscience Building in 1989, the college spent $3.8 million to renovate the Norris Hall of Chemistry in 1993.
The Los Angeles-based Fletcher Jones Foundation’s emphasis is on making grants to private, higher educational institutions, especially in California. The foundation was incorporated in 1969 as part of the Fletcher Jones estate plan. Jones was a mathematician, visionary businessman and pioneer in the new field of computer science in the 1950s.