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Gates Foundation grant helps study away programs

March 2, 2009

Making study away possible

A new $2 million scholarship fund will increase study abroad opportunities for low-income students at Pacific Lutheran University. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave the university a $1 million challenge grant to initiate the endowment fund a year ago. Since then, a matching $1 million has been raised from donors, including the estate of Arthur H. Hansen, Loren and MaryAnn Anderson, Charles Bergman and Susan Mann, and Iver and Ginny Haugen. Earnings from the endowment will provide approximately $100,000 a year to fund up to 70 Global Scholar Grants for students who otherwise might be unable to participate in PLU’s study-away programs. They will first be offered in the 2009-10 academic year.

“This new endowment will provide a significant boost to many deserving PLU students for generations to come,” said Neal Sobania, executive director of the Wang Center for International Programs. “The Global Scholar Grants program and the many accomplishments of these students also will continue to enhance PLU’s stature as a globally-focused university.”

At PLU, over 40 percent of students participate in at least one study-abroad experience before they graduate. This compares to a national average of 3 percent and ranks PLU among the top comprehensive masters-level universities in the country in the percentage of students studying abroad. The university’s long-range plan sets out a goal of 50 percent student participation in study-away programs. The Global Scholar Grants program will help the university meet and exceed that goal.

“This will have a profound and significant impact on our study away program,” President Loren J. Anderson said in announcing the scholarship fund last Thursday night.

PLU made history in 2006 by becoming the first United States university to have students and faculty studying on all seven continents simultaneously – including an exploration of the natural history, environment and conservation of the Antarctic Peninsula. That achievement was repeated 2008.

As a globally focused university, PLU is committed to providing an educational experience that prepares students to be world citizens who will work to help shape a just, healthy, sustainable and peaceful world. PLU is also committed to serving students from diverse backgrounds. PLU admits more Washington Achiever Scholars than any other independent university in the state. The student body includes 800 Pell Grant and 700 State Need Grant recipients. More than 90 percent of PLU students receive some form of financial aid.