October 18, 2023

New endowed scholarship to help international students facing substantial personal risks and educational barriers

Noted Purdue alum, wife helping women engineering undergrads with major gift 

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Thanks to the generosity of a Purdue University alumnus, some international students who have faced significant barriers to education in their home countries will be joining Purdue on full scholarship starting in the spring of 2024.

A significant multimillion-dollar endowed gift has led to the establishment of the Gilsdorf Women’s Engineering Scholarship. In the first semester of the scholarship rollout, two recipients from Afghanistan and Rwanda will be enrolled in Spring 2024 in the College of Engineering and will participate in the Women in Engineering Program.

The recipients are the first cohort of Gilsdorf Scholars who will come from regions of the globe where girls and women face significant obstacles or outright bans in learning from the government, sometimes with fatal consequences.

“The well-deserving recipients have overcome great personal risk in pursuit of higher education,” said Norman Gilsdorf, who earned a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from Purdue in 1977. “My wife and I believe that women are critical to solving the challenges we face in the world today, so to be able to collaborate with Purdue Engineering to support the education of these young women who can help shape our future is an honor.” 

“Even this far into the 21st Century, tragically, women are forbidden from studying under the rules of some regimes. That’s why Purdue University took the unusual step to match a philanthropic endowment, in this case from the generous and visionary gift by the Gilsdorfs, so as to provide a full-ride scholarship for each recipient,” said Purdue President Mung Chiang. “If a student has so much courage as to pursue studies despite grave dangers to her life, our university is excited to offer her free education through the Gilsdorf Scholarship in the land of 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and knowledge'.”

Gilsdorf Scholars will receive financial support to cover the full cost of attendance, including tuition, room and board, and program fees. Purdue will match the Gilsdorf gift with tuition assistance. Applicants must prove significant hardship, meet Purdue admissions requirements, pass the standard English language proficiency test, and take part in selection interviews.

“Engineers use their problem-solving skills to confront many of the world’s biggest concerns. The recipients of the Gilsdorf Scholarships will bring a unique, global perspective to Purdue to not only help solve challenges but enrich the profession,” said Beth Holloway, senior assistant dean for student access and success in Purdue’s College of Engineering, the Leah H. Jamieson director of the Women in Engineering Program, and professor of engineering practice in the School of Mechanical Engineering.

In 2010, Norman Gilsdorf received the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award from the College of Engineering. Gilsdorf has held numerous executive positions with Honeywell International Inc., and he was recently announced to serve as CEO of Plant.Digital, a startup joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Honeywell.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a public research institution with excellence at scale. Ranked among top 10 public universities and with two colleges in the top 4 in the United States, Purdue discovers and disseminates knowledge with a quality and at a scale second to none. More than 105,000 students study at Purdue across modalities and locations, with 50,000 in person on the West Lafayette campus. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue’s main campus has frozen tuition 12 years in a row. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap, including its first comprehensive urban campus in Indianapolis, the new Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, and Purdue Computes, at https://www.purdue.edu/president/strategic-initiatives

Writer/Media contact:  Wes Mills, wemills@purdue.edu


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