Swanson receives commitment for a donation that could exceed $10 million to help underrepresented students


Sarah Cutshall | Visual Editor

Pitt’s Benedum Hall houses the Swanson School of Engineering.

By Rebecca Johnson, News Editor

The Swanson School of Engineering received a commitment for a donation that could exceed $10 million on Wednesday from an anonymous Pitt engineering alumnus and his wife. The donation will financially support underrepresented students in the School. 

The eight-figure bequest intention — which is a commitment from the couple’s estate once they pass away — will provide financial aid to underprivileged or underrepresented undergraduate students enrolled in the Pitt EXCEL diversity program at Swanson.

Pitt EXCEL focuses on recruiting and retaining talented undergraduates, specifically those groups who are historically underrepresented in the field through tutoring, peer mentoring and career development workshops, among others. Over 1,500 students have participated in the program.

James Martin II, US Steel Dean of Engineering, said the couple’s gift will make Swanson — and academics in general — more equitable. 

“This cornerstone gift allows the Swanson School to develop the workforce of the future by offering high quality educational opportunities to a broader constituency, and by developing a platform of learning that extends for an entire lifetime,” Martin said. “The generosity of these donors opens a pipeline for a more socially equitable future of academics and experience that keeps our country at the forefront of innovation and economic prosperity.”

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher also said he is appreciative of the gift and excited to help underprivileged students with the money.

“I am extremely grateful for this gift, which supports the University of Pittsburgh’s efforts to tackle one of society’s greatest challenges—the inequity of opportunity,” Gallagher said. “Put into action, this commitment will help students from underrepresented groups access a world-class Pitt education and—in doing so—help elevate the entire field of engineering.”