Scholarships at Stevens

A 150-year Legacy

The history of scholarships at Stevens is as old as the university itself, when Stevens was founded in 1870 as America’s first college for mechanical engineering. Generous alumni and friends have supported scholarships since the beginning, and though scholarships have evolved over time, the culture of philanthropy that these early donors inspired continues to thrive.

The university’s first president, Henry Morton, designed the broad, rigorous and practical curriculum that has defined a Stevens education for generations. He also donated money for academic facilities, the first faculty chair, and the first endowed scholarships. His successor, Alexander Humphreys, an alumnus from 1881, established a scholarship in memory of his son, Harold from the Class of 1899, who drowned trying to rescue his younger brother.

Soon after the Stevens Alumni Association formed in 1876, alumni started a fund for students in need. In 1877, the university created scholarships for graduates of the Stevens School, which at the time was an affiliated prep school for students who were interested in attending college.

As Stevens began having an impact on business and society during the 19th century, friends of the university who weren’t alumni nevertheless saw reasons to give support. Jacob Vreeland, a doctor from Poughkeepsie, New York, left a scholarship for Stevens in his estate after he passed away in 1888. The American Railway Master Mechanics Association, realizing that Stevens graduates had superior technical skills, established four scholarships in 1891 to train future rail workers.

Today, there are many parallels to these first gifts for scholarships. Alumni and friends have established hundreds of scholarships named for class years, families and individuals, affinity groups like STEP and WCPR, and corporate and foundation partners like the American Bureau of Shipping and the A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation. Several donors also support the Babbio Pinnacle Scholars Program.

“In 1956,” said John Dalton ’60, “my late twin brother Ed and I were awarded full General Motors Scholarships. Absent that assistance, two working class kids like us from Jersey City would not have been able to pursue the American dream. When our class gathered for our 20th reunion in 1980, we established Stevens’ first-ever class scholarship fund, enabling the university to provide needed financial assistance to more worthy students.”

“We are proud to establish the Clark Scholars Program at Stevens,” said Joe Del Guercio, president and CEO of the Clark Foundation, in 2017. “The Clark Scholars Program helps to eliminate financial barriers so that promising young students can receive the education and training to achieve their full potential and become tomorrow’s engineering leaders.” 

Just like the early alumni who started a relief fund, alumni today contribute to the Impact Assistance Scholarship, which supports students who face sudden challenges that prevent their ability to stay enrolled. In 2020, alumni began supporting the Stevens Rises Relief Fund, which was established to support students affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

While the Stevens School no longer exists, alumni and friends are contributing scholarships for a diverse and dynamic pre-college program, where high school students live on campus during the summer and sample classes, collaborate on projects, tour STEM workplaces and learn how to prepare applications for college.

Like his predecessors President Morton and President Humphreys, President Nariman Farvardin is an emphatic supporter of scholarships, having established his own named funds. He has also inspired others to support the ACES initiative, which opens doors to STEM education for students from underserved backgrounds.

Nate Davis ’76, who helped develop ACES, is providing scholarships for students to attend the Art Harper ’78 Saturday Academy, established in 2019. “ACES is a major commitment that Stevens and its partners are undertaking,” Davis said. “It is one that will change lives and support those motivated students to achieve.”

As Stevens celebrates its 150th anniversary during 2020-21, and looks forward to the future, scholarships will continue to evolve for supporting a broad, diverse and talented student body. And as these students become alumni themselves, many will later contribute to a thriving culture of philanthropy shaped a century and a half ago.

“I always told myself that, if I made it, I would give back in any way I can,” said Christina Trinidad ’21, who received the Carl E. Kleiber ’26 Endowed Scholarship. “I will be graduating as a first-generation (American) chemical engineer. My story would have not been possible without people who have been supporting students like me. Thank you!”

To learn more about Stevens history during the sesquicentennial year, visit

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