Young aspiring scientists will have another way to support their education at Chapman University thanks to the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation and its longest-serving board member.
On Oct. 3, the foundation announced a $1 million endowment to create the Wescombe STEM Scholarship at Chapman’s Schmid College of Science and Technology. The scholarship, which honors recently retired Beckman Foundation board member Gary Wescombe, was unveiled at the Keck Center for Science and Engineering.
“It’s a nice recognition from a major national foundation – that they see us as a place to train top STEM scholars in Orange County,” said Schmid College Dean Michael Ibba.
The four-year scholarship, which will be awarded starting in fall 2024, will support two students each year. Students must be from Orange County and majoring in a science field. These scholars receive both faculty and peer mentoring.
Wescombe served on the foundation’s board for 25 years and is a former chair. When he was set to retire from the board, he was given the gift of designating what $1 million would support.
“We as a family look forward to meeting and following the recipients of the scholarships to see what they are able to accomplish,” Wescombe said.
“Arnold Beckman loved science, he loved Orange County and he loved youth,” Wescombe continued. “George Argyros was a big supporter of Chapman and he got me involved initially in the Beckman Foundation. Accordingly, I decided a science scholarship should be provided at Chapman.”
In addition to his friendship with Argyros, who was Chapman’s longest-serving Board of Trustees chair, Wescombe’s daughter Joy graduated from Chapman in 1992 and his son-in-law Warner Griswold teaches at Argyros College of Business and Economics.
“It is such a pleasure to honor Gary’s longtime commitment to the foundation and its mission of supporting young scientists,” said Andrew Lyon, founding dean of Chapman’s Fowler School of Engineering and current Chapman professor and Beckman Foundation board chair.
“As board chair, he was instrumental in further solidifying the foundation’s reputation as a driving force for innovation in the chemical and life sciences. I am excited that he has chosen to continue that commitment through the establishment of this endowment at Chapman,” Lyon said.
Chapman President Daniele C. Struppa said the gift “supports our strategic plan goal of supporting academic excellence at Chapman.”
“The Wescombe STEM Scholarship will help us cultivate more homegrown talent in the sciences and send more Chapman graduates to Orange County’s STEM industry,” he said.
The gift boosts Chapman’s strategic plan goal to raise $500 million through its Inspire campaign. More than $358 million has been raised.
“Gary has been a champion of science education in Orange County for many years and I can’t think of a better way to thank him for his service to the Beckman Foundation and the community,” said campaign co-chair Jim Mazzo.
The Beckman Foundation also funds the Beckman Scholar Program, which supports Chapman undergraduates doing research with science faculty.
Five Beckman Scholars and their faculty mentors attended the Wescombe STEM Scholarship announcement.
“When I first started my undergraduate career here at Chapman as a chemistry major, I was very hesitant in my ability to be successful in the sciences,” said Beckman Scholar Emma Kocik ’22. “I heard how difficult college STEM classes were and never could envision myself pursuing graduate school education. But I was very fortunate to have excellent professors and mentors here at Chapman who helped me build my identity as a scientist, and encouraged me to try to research out early on.”
Kocik, who worked with Schmid Senior Associate Dean of Academic Programs and Faculty Development Christopher Kim, is now a Ph.D. student at the University of Pennsylvania studying glacial biochemistry.
“While I’m just at the beginning of this journey, I’m competent now in my identity as a scientist, and I have to attribute that largely to my support from both the Beckman Foundation and also Chapman,” Kocik said.