MIT announced Oct. 19 a $30 million gift from Joan and Irwin Jacobs (S.M. 1957, Ph.D. 1959) to support graduate fellowships for students in the School of Engineering. Irwin Jacobs, founder and chairman of San Diego-based Qualcomm Inc., a worldwide leader in digital wireless communication, received his master's and doctoral degrees from MIT in electrical engineering and computer science.
The Jacobs' gift creates the Irwin Mark Jacobs and Joan Klein Jacobs Presidential Fellowships. The $30 million gift will support at least 15 Jacobs Presidential Fellows annually in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, with the first Fellows to be named in fall 2008.
"We ourselves were the beneficiaries of undergraduate scholarships, and then when I applied for graduate school, I also received a fellowship. It was very important for me to have fellowship support, and if we benefited, we think there are many others who can benefit as well," Irwin Jacobs said.
This latest gift from the Jacobses to MIT is part of the couple's long history of philanthropy, which also includes the creation of an endowed chair at MIT, the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Professorship in the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems. The Jacobs are also major supporters of the San Diego Symphony and the University of California, San Diego.
"I am enormously grateful to Joan and Irwin Jacobs for their extraordinary generosity and support. MIT attracts some of the very best graduate students in the world, and Joan and Irwin Jacobs' magnificent gift ensures that those students will have the opportunity to pursue the cutting-edge education and research for which the Institute is known," said MIT President Susan Hockfield.
"As someone who has been an MIT student, MIT professor, inventor, entrepreneur, and co-founder of a successful technology company, Irwin Jacobs stands as an extraordinary role model for engineering and for MIT," said Dean of Engineering Subra Suresh. "I add my gratitude for the Jacobs' exceptional gift to support graduate fellowships in electrical engineering and computer science, which will help prepare outstanding students to follow in his footsteps."
The MIT Presidential Fellowship Program recruits the most outstanding students worldwide to pursue graduate studies at the Institute. Presidential Fellowships fund the tuition and living stipend of awardees for their first academic year at MIT. The Fellows are selected by the president and provost from a pool of candidates nominated by the deans and heads of departments and interdisciplinary programs. The program was started in 1999.
The Jacobs' gift is the largest to date to MIT's Campaign for Students, a fundraising campaign that began in fall 2006 to support undergraduate and graduate education and student life. The campaign will fund undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, undergraduate education initiatives, and programmatic and capital investments in student life. The campaign's formal launch will be in October 2008 and will conclude in 2011 to coincide with the celebration of the 150th anniversary of MIT's founding.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 24, 2007 (download PDF).