Home University of Mary Washington receives $30m gift toward undergraduate research in STEM

University of Mary Washington receives $30m gift toward undergraduate research in STEM

Courtesy of the University of Mary Washington.

A $30 million alumna gift will support undergraduate research in STEM subjects at the University of Mary Washington.

From the estate of the late Irene Piscopo Rodgers, a 1959 alumna, the gift is the Fredericksburg university’s largest in its 115-year history.

“Students who benefited from Irene’s generosity welcomed her into their lives, so she was able to observe firsthand the transformative power of her gifts,” UMW President Troy Paino said. “This unprecedented donation guarantees that exceptional students will continue to have access to a UMW education that delivers the kind of high-impact learning experiences that Irene valued so much.”

Rodgers, who began donating to her alma mater in 1980 with a $50 donation, made a name for herself in the field of electron microscopy when few women worked in the field. She helped pave the way for UMW graduates, especially women, to excel in STEM. She often said that Mary Washington “opened worlds” for her.

The donation from her estate will open worlds for UMW students pursuing biology, chemistry, physics, earth and environmental sciences, computer science and math. Students will have opportunities to attend the university’s Summer Science Institute and work alongside faculty mentors.

Rodgers’ $30 million investment in UMW puts the university in line with almost any other university for undergraduate STEM research. The gift will support the creation of four new Alvey Scholarships by providing full tuition, fees and room and board for out-of-state undergraduate students for up to four years. Rodgers provided previous donations which created eight Alvey Scholarships.

Rodgers died in Huntington, N.Y. on July 18, 2022.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.