Dartmouth will use $20M gift to boost STEM diversity

President Hanlon: 'Dartmouth will pursue programs that help create a racially and ethnically diverse talent pipeline for the next generation of engineers, doctors, computer scientists, and the professors who will teach them.'
By: | May 18, 2021

“This year has served as a wake-up call for America on race. It was a year when we were forced to recognize the inadequacy of our own understanding of racial justice in the United States. We wanted to do something about the race issues we face in America.” – Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, executive director of the Global Digital Policy Incubator at Stanford University

That something was a gift from Donahoe and her husband John, the CEO of Nike, for $20 million to their alma mater, Dartmouth College, to improve representation and enhance diversity, equity and inclusion among leadership in STEM fields.

The donation, one piece of a $60 million effort from Dartmouth to invest further in underrepresented faculty and boost student success, will help create a fellowship for six early-career educators and “provide academic enrichment funds and offer scholarship support that promotes access and affordability”, according to the college.

“Talent is equally distributed, even if opportunity is not,” Dartmouth President Philip Hanlon said. “Through this extraordinary gift, Dartmouth will pursue programs that help create a racially and ethnically diverse talent pipeline for the next generation of engineers, doctors, computer scientists, and the professors who will teach them. Eileen and John believe that Dartmouth can lead on this national issue, and they are generously giving us the means to expand these proven programs.”

Since 2013 and under Hanlon’s leadership, Dartmouth has prioritized DEI as a centerpiece of its mission, instruction, research and its hiring and retention of employees. Its “Call to Lead” campaign has pulled in $2.8 billion in an effort to provide more access and opportunities to all students, including those pursuing STEM career paths.

According to statistics from the Pew Research Center, Whites (67%) continue to dominate the STEM workforce across all disciplines. Asian Americans are next at 13%, while Hispanics (8%) and Blacks (9%) lag behind not only in STEM but in all other job fields. For Hispanics, the representation in STEM is about half of other positions they hold, and there is a huge disparity in engineering jobs between Blacks (5%) and Whites (71%).

Eileen and John Donahoe

The donation from the Donahoes will go directly toward the college’s E.E. Just Program, named for the African American biologist and Dartmouth valedictorian Ernest Everett Just, which hopes to level academic outcomes and lift faculty representation by increasing the number of students of color pursuing STEM careers.

“Our Dartmouth experience had a profound impact on our lives, including teaching us the importance of diversity and inclusion,” said John Donahoe, who also was CEO of eBay and PayPal. “We are honored to help support future generations of Dartmouth students from historically underrepresented groups.”

According to officials at Dartmouth, its $60 million program aims to:

  • Recruit early-career faculty through fellowships to improve DEI and support an 18-person teaching cohort
  • Increase the number of Black, Indigenous and people of color through enrichment and scholarships in STEM
  • Start a DEI accelerator fund that fuels potential seed funding for community-driven initiatives “to improve campus climate”
  • Become an “intellectual hub for Black scholars”
  • Create a Tribal Services and Solutions pilot to both address disparities in Native American communities and provide more cohesion and collaboration with the college
  • Boost awareness of racial injustice and increase endowed resources for its African American Studies program

“We selected these particular ideas because they speak to Dartmouth’s unique strengths and opportunities,” said Matt Delmont, professor of history and special advisor to Hanlon on faculty diversity. “Support for these initiatives will benefit the entire campus community and distinguish Dartmouth among our peers.”