Thayer receives $25 million gift

by Megan Clyne | 5/17/16 6:15pm

Barry MacLean ’60 Th ’61 donated $25 million to the Thayer School of Engineering, the largest gift in Thayer’s 149-year history, the school announced on Monday.

The gift aims to further a variety of educational goals at Thayer while also supporting the construction of a third building for the school. Of the $25 million gift, $15 million is earmarked for the construction of a new engineering building and the remaining $10 million is for a challenge grant to foster endowed professorships at Thayer.

The gift will be essential to Thayer’s expansion efforts, which aims to provide all undergraduate students the opportunity to engage with technology as part of their liberal arts education, according to a College press release announcing the gift.

The total estimated cost for the new building is $200 million. Thayer staff expect construction to take about two and a half years, a figure contingent upon funding availability.

MacLean is the co-chair of the fundraising effort for Thayer’s expansion with Thayer Board of Overseers chair Terry McGuire Th ’82.

Currently, the school plans to incorporate energy and medicine into the engineering sciences curriculum. Specific foci would include global energy challenges, biomolecular medicine and immunoengineering.

Thayer dean Joseph Helble said the new building will include labs for faculty doing research in these fields. The College decided that Thayer should focus on these fields within engineering as they are essential to moving engineering forward and to generating solutions to the world’s problems, he said.

The new building — south of the current MacLean Center, also named for MacLean — will be 180,000 square feet.

Thayer also plans to extend student enrollment, with a specific emphasis on women. In the Class of 2016, 51 percent of engineering majors are women, substantially higher than the national average of 19 percent at engineering schools. Helble said the school plans to increase female enrollment further in the future.

Over the past decade, the number of engineering majors has grown significantly. In 2006, there were 61 engineering majors, a figure that climbed to 210 by 2016. An additional 33 students are undergraduates receiving a dual degree in engineering from Dartmouth with a bachelor’s from another institution. Thayer also has 61 bachelor of engineering students and roughly 200 additional students in its graduate programs.

The gift also aims to increase the number of faculty at Thayer, including individuals who have experiences with start-up creation.

Thayer values an integrated, interactive approach to engineering, so it is important to them to provide students with easy access to the best-qualified faculty, Helble said.

The school also hopes to decrease its student-to-faculty ratio, Helble said. Currently, Thayer has 56 “core faculty” members and 31 visiting and adjunct faculty. The school hopes to add an additional 20 to 30 full faculty members in the future, Helble said.

College President Phil Hanlon expressed his gratitude and respect for MacLean’s support of the College for half a century in the press release. Not only did MacLean attend the College and Thayer, but he also served on Thayer’s Board of Overseers for 42 years, contributed to innovations in entrepreneurship and recruited students from the Midwest.

MacLean is chairman and CEO of MacLean-Fogg, an Illinois-based manufacturing company with more than 35 locations worldwide and a workforce of 4,500. He is the father of three Dartmouth alumni.

The College expects the gift to help increase the number of students majoring in engineering and going on to Thayer for postgraduate studies, according to the press release.

Helble said the expansion will broaden and strengthen student opportunities in this field. He noted that the expansion of the school supports Hanlon’s goal of increasing experiential learning opportunities at the College.