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05-03-2002

Clarkson University Receives $30 Million From Wallace H. Coulter Foundation

Potsdam, N.Y. – The Wallace H. Coulter Foundation has made a $30-million commitment to Clarkson University, in support of ongoing excellence in engineering and science programs at the University. This gift, the largest in Clarkson’s history, will dramatically transform the institution and will reinforce and broaden Clarkson’s most successful learning and research activities.

Clarkson’s School of Engineering will be named the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering, in recognition of the Foundation’s generous gift and the late Wallace Coulter’s dedication to the University as a trustee.

“This is a defining event for Clarkson,” said President Denny Brown. “The extraordinary generosity of the Coulter Foundation will bring about exciting and dramatic advances in Clarkson’s research and educational initiatives.

“Wallace Coulter was a visionary with a keen scientific mind. He felt a particular affinity for Clarkson. Wallace’s personal vision, that the purpose of scientific inquiry and technological innovation is to serve humanity, aligns closely with Clarkson’s mission. Through this gift, Clarkson will fully realize its vision of educating technological leaders with the skill, knowledge and compassion to benefit society through their work.”

Wallace H. Coulter was a renowned inventor and entrepreneur. He became acquainted with Clarkson through his collaboration with colloid scientists on the faculty. In 1979 he received an honorary Ph.D. degree, and served as a trustee of the University from 1983-1989. Through the years, Coulter maintained close connections with Clarkson, supporting research projects, collaborating with scientists, and establishing an endowed scholarship.

“The Coulter Foundation’s gift will have an enduring impact,” said President Brown. “I speak for everyone at Clarkson when I express my heartfelt gratitude for the Foundation’s support.”

The grant will fund five key areas, which will support Clarkson’s leadership in research and teaching in engineering and the sciences, team project-based learning, and innovative interdisciplinary programs.

  • Team project-based learning activities will receive long-term operating support through an endowment, allowing Clarkson to improve and expand these opportunities for students. Clarkson engages students in real-world problem-solving as team members. Programs such as SPEED (Student Projects for Engineering Experience and Design), for which Clarkson faculty received the 2001 Boeing Outstanding Educator Award, and senior engineering design projects are two examples of this emphasis. This learning format effectively prepares students for working on diverse teams in their careers.
  • Endowed chairs and endowed fellowships will allow Clarkson to attract and retain high-caliber scholars, both those distinguished in their own professional research careers as well as bright new minds. Colloid chemistry is one key area of research to be supported; Clarkson has enjoyed an international reputation in this field since the 1950’s, with such renowned scholars as Egon Matijević and Milton Kerker on the faculty.
  • A new program in rehabilitation engineering will be established. Wallace Coulter was particularly interested in seeing Clarkson pursue this opportunity. Clarkson has a unique combination of expertise in physical therapy, engineering and materials science. These disciplines intersect in the field of rehabilitation engineering.  In this new program, students and faculty will explore and develop technological innovations to meet human needs. The endowment in this area will allow Clarkson to expand faculty for the program, create new laboratories, support student projects and provide graduate fellowships.
  • The gift will provide modern instrumentation, ongoing upgrades to laboratory facilities and equipment maintenance. The plan includes immediate funds to undertake laboratory renovations and equipment purchases, as well as an endowment to support the ongoing costs of maintaining state-of-the-art equipment, particularly in colloid science research.
  • An endowment will be established to provide scholarships for minority students pursuing a degree in engineering. The scholarships will also be available to women from developing countries. This funding will provide a means to encourage more students from traditionally underrepresented groups to obtain an engineering degree.

Wallace H. Coulter (1913-1998) is noted as one of the most accomplished inventors of the twentieth century, recognized for advances in hematology and cell analysis that revolutionized laboratory medicine. In the late 1940’s, Coulter established a basement laboratory and conducted experiments in electronics and cell biology, seeking ways to improve clinical testing.  The result of this experimentation was the invention of the Coulter Principle in 1948, for which he received a patent in 1953. The Coulter Principle was a dramatic breakthrough that provided a methodology for counting, measuring, and evaluating microscopic particles suspended in fluid. This was closely followed by his development of the “Coulter Counter,” which is used to perform the most common medical diagnostic test, the complete blood count, or CBC.

With his brother Joe, Wallace founded Coulter Corporation in 1958, and developed the company into the industry leader in blood analyzing equipment. By the 1990’s, with 5,500 employees in five continents, the company had developed entire families of instruments, reagents and controls, not just in hematology, but also in cytometry, industrial fine particle counting, and other lab instrumentation. In 1997, the Coulter Corporation was acquired by Beckman Instruments and is now known as Beckman-Coulter, Inc.

Wallace Coulter received numerous awards during his lifetime, including the prestigious John Scott Award for Scientific Achievement, given for discoveries that benefit humankind; other recipients include Thomas Edison, Jonas Salk, Gugliemo Marconi and Marie Curie.

The Wallace H. Coulter Foundation was established to continue Wallace’s lifelong commitment to solving healthcare problems through the use of technology.

Clarkson University, founded in 1896, is an independent technological university in Potsdam, New York, offering majors in the sciences, engineering, liberal arts, health sciences and business. At Clarkson 2,600 undergraduates and 350 graduate students learn in an academically rigorous, collaborative culture that emphasizes hands-on team projects and real-world multidisciplinary challenges. Many faculty members achieve international recognition for their scholarship and research, and teaching is a priority at every level. As a result, Clarkson has earned a reputation for developing innovative leaders in technology-based fields. For more information, visit http://www.clarkson.edu.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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