Math and science programs at Fort Hays State University have received $50,000 from the Steffens Foundation, Boulder, Colo.
Mary (Steffens) Schweitzer, Boulder, and her family have designated $40,000 to support FHSU math and science programs and $10,000 to the greatest needs of the university.
Schweitzer received her bachelor's and master's degrees in elementary education from FHSU in 1965 and 1968, respectively.
She has financially contributed to many initiatives that encourage youth, especially young women, to enter science and math fields. Most notably, she has supported an annual science summer camp for teenage girls hosted by FHSU's Science and Mathematics Education Institute (SMEI). "When you see students manipulate something or figure out a math problem, their eyes light up," said Schweitzer. "Seeing that satisfaction is just one of the reasons why I'm such a big supporter of all FHSU is doing to enhance student science- and math-related careers."
"Mary's contributions to science initiatives play a major role in what we are able to accomplish through the Science and Mathematics Education Institute," said Dr. Paul Adams, Anschutz Professor of Education, professor of physics and director of the SMEI. "Her generosity is invaluable in helping us expose pre-college-aged students to opportunities that exist in science- and math-related careers."
Schweitzer taught sixth-grade students at schools in Kansas and Colorado and overseas in Japan and Germany. She said it was during that time she noticed that female students were gradually losing interest in math and science. She realized it was not easy to help them regain their enthusiasm and sense of inquiry for the sciences.
By supporting FHSU's initiatives, Schweitzer said, she hopes to see an increase in the number of women in pursuing science as a career.
"Young girls regain excitement when they see women scientists in the workforce excelling, innovating, having fun and making our world a better place in which to live," she said. "That knowledge is so valuable because they begin to understand that science can be cool, interesting and creative."
Schweitzer also helped establish the Palouse Discovery Science Center in Pullman, Wash., where she lived for 27 years.
For more information about making a donation to Fort Hays State University, contact the FHSU Foundation at (785) 628-5620 or visit www.fhsu.edu/foundation.