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Robert F. Smith Gifts $15M To His Alma Mater Cornell University To Support Underserved Students Pursuing Careers In STEM


In addition to the announcement of the funds, Smith will also receive Cornell’s Distinguished Alumni Award. The achievement celebrates and recognizes engineering alumni who use their professional accomplishments to give back.

“In all seriousness, I am thrilled to accept this award,” Smith said. “In many ways, this school made me who I am today. It taught me lessons that guide me still. So it means a lot to be invited back and honored like this.”

He continued: “I chose to study at Cornell many years ago because I did my research. I learned about Ezra Cornell, Andrew Dickson White, and the tradition of Alpha Phi Alpha, my fraternity. Their example — their courage — drew me here. That and the weather.”

The new funds will begin to be distributed during the Fall 2022 semester with a strong preference geared toward HBCU graduates as well as students who have graduated from “urban core high schools in major cities,” according to information shared with AfroTech. Those from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds and/ or those who have had to overcome trials and tribulations in pursuit of their educational goals will also have the top priority when it comes to the selection of recipients for the funds.

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