UW News

June 16, 2000

New scholarship provides full funding for women studying science or technology

News and Information

One of the most generous scholarship gifts ever received by the University of Washington will help women in Washington wishing to pursue careers in science and technology.

A gift of $1 million from Robert J. Glushko and Pamela Samuelson has created the Dovie Samuelson Endowed Scholarship, a four-year scholarship that will cover all costs of attending the UW. The current value of the scholarship is just over $13,000 a year, covering tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, personal expenses, and transportation. The gift ultimately will provide full scholarships for four or five students.

“This is an extraordinary gift for our students,” says UW President Richard L. McCormick. “Bob Glushko and Pamela Samuelson identified a real need–lowering barriers for outstanding female scholars who wish to study science or engineering–and created a mechanism for addressing that need. We are thrilled that this important scholarship has been established at the University of Washington.”

The scholarship honors Samuelson’s grandmother and the inspiration she provided to her granddaughter to dedicate herself to learning and doing good work. Dovie Samuelson raised two sons as a single parent in Burlington during the Depression, sending them both to the UW, and financing their education by teaching piano.

“She was a brave and pioneering person at a time and in circumstances where this was not easy to do,” says Pamela Samuelson. “She regarded education as important, not just in her own life but in that of her children and grandchildren. Both her children and all her grandchildren, except me, went to the UW. This is an appropriate way to honor her. When she was growing up, it was hard for women to get any education. Today, women continue to need encouragement if they want a career in a technical field.”

The gift was inspired by the niece of Samuelson’s sister-in-law, Ariel Altaras. Altaras wanted to attend the UW to study science, but she feared she’d never be able to afford a good university. Glushko and Samuelson met her on a visit to Seattle last Thanksgiving and were immediately impressed by her strong drive to pursue her educational dreams.

“Science has always been one of my favorite subjects in school,” Altaras says. “In my sophomore year, I became interested in genetics, but it’s hard to find that kind of education in high school, so I’ve been taking classes at Bellevue Community College through Running Start on advanced topics in the sciences. But I was worried about financing a college education.”

According to Glushko, “We saw how passionately she felt about her education as she worked part time and attended a community college while finishing her senior year. We wanted to help her and similarly motivated students to pursue their studies without them worrying about how they were going to afford the high cost of attending college.” Thus, Altaras is the first recipient of the scholarship.

“While we are thrilled that our ‘Silicon Valley money’ enables us to fund the Samuelson scholarship, we hope that potential donors in the Seattle area recognize that for each student our scholarship supports there could be 50 other worthy recipients. We encourage others to recognize this need and step forward.”

Two other students have been selected by the Office of Student Financial Aid in this first group of recipients.

Shannon Bemis of Spokane, the valedictorian at West Valley High School, is graduating with a 4.0 average and a strong desire to pursue a career in chemical engineering. Her high school chemistry teacher says she is the number one student among the 1,000 students he has taught over the past eight years. “From the beginning, as a gifted freshman, she has displayed extraordinary abilities. Shannon’s subsequent four years at West Valley have demonstrated that she is a proven performer with a history of outstanding accomplishments to her credit,” he wrote.

Crystal Pham, who is graduating from Mountlake Terrace High School, has a 3.99 grade point average while working part-time to help her single-parent mother meet the costs of raising her and her younger brother. She reports that ever since she was a child, she was fascinated with science, particularly biology. Last summer, she attended a special program at the UW to introduce students to the study of medicine. She is now planning to major in microbiology and work toward medical school. She will be the first in her family to attend a four-year college or university.

Eric Godfrey, director of the UW’s student financial aid program, says, “We are deeply indebted to Professor Samuelson and Dr. Glushko for their splendid gift. This support will enhance our ability to attract the very best high school graduates to the UW and it will enable these students to pursue their dreams without worrying about financing their education, the need to work during the school year, and loan indebtedness when they graduate. The extraordinary quality of the three inaugural recipients confirms that the scholarship is doing precisely what the donors hoped it would. We have no doubt that it will have a profound impact on generations to come.”

Robert Glushko is a technology expert and entrepreneur in information management and online publishing and the director of document engineering at CommerceOne, a company that builds business to business Internet marketplaces. He has founded or co-founded three companies, the most recent being Veo Systems, acquired by Commerce One in 1999 before its initial public offering. Glushko has an M.S. in software engineering from the Wang Institute and a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from the University of California, San Diego.

Pamela Samuelson is professor of information management and law at the University of California, Berkeley, where she teaches intellectual property and cyberlaw. In 1997 she was named a fellow of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and was recognized as one of the top 100 lawyers in the U.S. by the National Law Journal. Samuelson has an M.A. in political science from the University of Hawaii and a J.D. from Yale Law School. She is a Washington state native.