The African American billionaire Robert Frederick Smith has generously donated $50 million to the Cornell University’s School of Engineering.
Smith is the founder, chairperson and CEO of the Vista Equity Partners. The University has reciprocated to his $50 million gift by renaming the School to the Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell.
“I have had the privilege of being a Cornell graduate with a degree in engineering. I credit much to my career success to being an engineer by training. Engineers solve problems and fix things. Along my career, I have become increasingly concerned by the lack of diversity across the engineering and tech disciplines,” said Smith.
“My direct intention here is to work directly with Cornell Tech and Cornell Engineering, in New York City and in Ithaca, to create direct on-ramps for African-Americans and young women to enter tech so that they can help lead us into the fourth industrial revolution.”
Smith was recently featured in the Forbes 400, a yearly Forbes’ magazine that features the top 400 richest Americans. He also happens to be the only male African American to have featured on that list. Smith monetary donation will also go towards funding the Robert Frederick Smith Tech Scholars Program; a program seeking to provide financial aid to the minority and female students.
Lance Collins, the Joseph Silbert Dean of Cornell Engineering, said, “Robert’s generosity will not only elevate our School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, but it will ensure it becomes more accessible than ever.
I believe an affordable educational path from engineering in Ithaca to Cornell Tech in New York City, for those who wouldn’t otherwise be offered such an opportunity, will produce some of the sharpest minds in engineering and technology. I’m thankful Robert shares this vision and is making it a reality.”