Funding the Future
Endowed Graduate Fellowships Offer Transformative Opportunity for Caltech
They work alongside faculty in campus labs, united in the pursuit of discovery and innovation. They guide undergraduates through advanced concepts in science and engineering. Their tenacious work ethic and fresh perspectives help drive Caltech’s research.
They are the graduate students of Caltech.
According to President Thomas F. Rosenbaum, holder of the Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair and professor of physics, they are also the Institute’s future. And to help secure that future, the Institute has launched an initiative with the ultimate aim of endowing all graduate fellowships at Caltech—an undertaking that carries with it vast possibilities for a close-knit community of scholars who share a common dream of discovering something new that matters and may directly improve the world.
“Graduate students are the soul of our research programs,” says Joe Shepherd, vice president for student affairs and Caltech’s C. L. Kelly Johnson Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering. “The commitment, energy, and imagination they bring are unequaled.”
Momentum to boost financial aid for graduate students began with one grand act of generosity—a $100 million commitment from trustees Gordon (PhD ’54) and Betty Moore that came without stipulations or provisions other than that it be applied to Caltech’s endowment. Institute leaders agreed that the most powerful way to use the Moores’ gift was to augment funding for fellowships. They also added an incentive for others to give.
The newly established Gordon and Betty Moore Graduate Fellowship Match offers $1 for every $2 invested in endowed graduate fellowships at Caltech, making it possible for a broader base of alumni and friends to make gifts with far-reaching impact. When every dollar of the Moore Match has been used, endowed fellowship support at the Institute will have grown by $300 million.
“Endowing fellowships for all graduate students at Caltech will be transformative for the Institute,” Rosenbaum says. “It will let us stand out among our peers, providing flexibility to students and faculty alike to pursue the most inventive ideas, relieving pressure from the vicissitudes of government funding, and aiding in recruitment. The Moore Match jump-starts this ambitious ideal.”
Rosenbaum and his wife, Katherine T. Faber, who is Caltech’s Simon Ramo Professor of Materials Science, were so inspired to seize this opportunity that they became the first to participate in the match. Their gift creates the Rosenbaum-Faber Family Graduate Fellowship.
“We hope that others will follow our lead and help secure Caltech’s future through their support of our passionate and talented students,” Rosenbaum says.
The first Rosenbaum-Faber Family Fellow is yet to be named, but the funding will provide generations of graduate students with the freedom to pursue their studies—and even to change their academic direction based on newfound passions or unexpected research results. This type of lasting support prevents external funding from dictating the lines of inquiry fellows pursue or sidelining them from their primary focus.
As a doctoral student, Faber received a corporate fellowship that gave her a firsthand view of how influential this type of assistance can be for an aspiring investigator.
“These funds provided me with an outstanding opportunity to link fundamental work on the fracture of brittle solids with engineering applications,” she says. “This model motivated me to seek research funding from both federal and corporate sources as I built and now operate my lab. This also gives students a broader perspective on the range of research opportunities.”
The Rosenbaum-Faber Family Graduate Fellowship carries a preference that recipients alternate between male and female scholars, bringing the added benefit of promoting diversity on campus.
With additional fellowships, Caltech will be better positioned not only to recruit promising graduate students, but also to attract accomplished faculty members who want to mentor and engage the best and brightest students in their investigations.
“What students don’t often realize is that their work influences subsequent projects in the lab, linking them to their predecessors and successors,” Faber says. “There’s a family quality to research groups that I relish.”
The Gordon and Betty Moore Graduate Fellowship Match is available for new gifts and pledges to endow graduate fellowships unrestricted by division or field. For more information about the match and how to support graduate education at Caltech, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (626) 395-4863.