UVA alumnus donates millions to School of Engineering

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The University of Virginia School of Engineering announced its largest gift in history with a $25 million contribution from Greg Olsen, a UVA alumnus.

Olsen's gift will be matched with $11.5 million from UVA's Bicentennial Scholars Fund and the Bicentennial Professors Fund. The historic gift will help the school expand its resources, fund scholarships, and pursue research opportunities.

Olsen graduated from UVA in 1971 with a PhD from the Materials Science and Engineering Department. He hopes the gift will inspire other UVA students to pay it forward.

"Just dig deeper. We all should," Olsen said. "My grandson is an engineering student here and it gives me a great pleasure to have a legacy here and I think we all love the university and want to do what we can."

Craig Benson, dean of the UVA School of Engineering, hopes the gift will also help students and faculty members make their dream ideas into reality.

"When you have a gift like this, faculty wake up," Benson said. "They're dreaming about some idea in their science, and this type of gift provides them the resource to actually go try it that day."

The total investment will go toward providing resources to recruit and retain scholars including a professorship in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, heling to recruit PhD students including fellowships in the department, and resources to quickly respond to opportunities such as hands-on learning experiences for students, enhancing diversity programs and modernizing facilities.

The UVA School of Engineering has also been growing, with a 30 percent increase in the number of faculty and a 64 percent increase in PhD students since 2014.

Olsen also made a historic gift to the school in 2001 when he donated $15 million toward the construction of Wilsdorf Hall.

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