Luce Foundation to support two professorships for women in engineering

Filed Under: News

December 18, 2012

The Henry Luce Foundation’s Clare Boothe Luce Program has awarded the University of Washington (UW) a roughly $500,000 grant to support the creation of two professorships for women in engineering. The grant, which will be distributed over the course of five years, will support the addition of two faculty members; one will be a scholar in the Molecular Engineering and Sciences Institute (MolES) and the other a scholar in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE), two new innovative interdisciplinary research centers.

“These two Clare Boothe Luce Professor appointments come at a critical time of expanded engineering faculty hiring to accommodate significant enrollment growth and to advance the culture of gender equity,” said Matt O’Donnell, dean of the College of Engineering.

The UW College of Engineering (CoE) is a recognized national leader in advancing women in engineering. In the past ten years, CoE increased the number of women in tenure-track and tenured positions by 73%. Women faculty in CoE account for 21.3% of the total faculty in tenure-track or tenured positions compared to the national average of 13%. The University expects to add the Clare Boothe Luce tenure-track faculty positions in the fall of 2013.

“These professorships will leverage the opportunity for new faculty hires to fuel our ongoing progress toward STEM gender equity by enhancing our ability to recruit outstanding candidates. The Clare Boothe Luce program is an important part of encouraging academic environments in which women can thrive and engage in innovative research,” said Eve Riskin, associate dean of academic affairs of the College of Engineering.

Clare Boothe Luce funding has already made a difference at the UW. In 2001, a Clare Boothe Luce grant facilitated the hiring of Professor Kristi Morgansen to the aeronautics and astronautics department. She now leads an Office of Naval Research Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative on bio-inspired agile flight and is Deputy Director of the CSNE. In summer 2012, Professor Morgansen led a study abroad on marine robotics in Australia for women, underrepresented minority, and low-income students.

Established in 1989, the Clare Boothe Luce Program at the Henry Luce Foundation is named for Time Inc. co-founder Henry Luce’s widow, a playwright, journalist, U.S. ambassador to Italy, and Connecticut’s first female U.S. Representative. Her bequest creating the program is intended to encourage women to enter, study, graduate, and teach in the sciences. Its grants support undergraduate scholarships, undergraduate research awards, graduate and postdoctoral fellowships, and professorships.