Like its predecessors, this issue of art/sci will introduce you to outstanding students and faculty members in the College of Arts and Sciences and to exciting programs in both research and education. For example, you will meet the college’s Distinguished University Professors, learn about an undergraduate student’s journey into medical and legal history, and discover how a collaboration between Case Western Reserve University and Makerere University in Uganda is combating the AIDS epidemic.
Not coincidentally, this issue also recognizes several of the college’s benefactors, whose generosity makes possible the achievements we highlight in these pages. For me, it is especially gratifying to note how many of these philanthropists are our alumni.
The example set by such donors was very much in my thoughts during October’s Alumni Weekend, when we launched Forward Thinking: The Campaign for Case Western Reserve University. Within this $1 billion fundraising initiative, the college’s goal is $170 million. As noted elsewhere in this issue, our alumni and friends have already pledged more than $115 million.
This amount includes a $20 million commitment, made by a science graduate of Case Institute of Technology, to fund strategic investments in the natural sciences. Let me explain what makes this a truly transformative gift.
One of my greatest challenges as dean is to provide new faculty in the natural sciences with an environment in which they can carry out their research. We must invest in laboratories and equipment and provide initial funding for personnel, including graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Thus, each time an experimental physicist, biologist, chemist, astronomer or geologist joins the faculty, we establish the equivalent of a new startup company.
Yet these are not the only kinds of strategic investments we need in the natural sciences. Our undergraduate teaching laboratories must be updated periodically, as new equipment, instrumentation and techniques become available. And to pursue opportunities in the focus areas identified in our strategic plan, including “Origins” and “Culture, Creativity and Design,” we must provide seed funding to emerging initiatives.
The $20 million endowment will provide resources for all of these purposes. I cannot begin to estimate its potential impact on our research and teaching in the natural sciences in the years ahead.
I wish to express my profound thanks to this donor, to all of the college’s supporters featured in this issue, and to the larger community of alumni and friends who continue to sustain and strengthen this remarkable institution. I hope that the stories you are about to read will inspire you to make your own commitment to the college’s future.