Fellowship to help Cornell Engineering graduates attend Cornell Tech

A new fellowship funded by Don Follett ’52 and Mibs Follett ’51 aims to encourage Cornell Engineering graduates to pursue master’s degrees at Cornell Tech, boosting the pipeline of students and cementing connections between the two campuses.

The Follett Family Fellowship will help Cornell Tech recruit a talented, diverse and high-performing pool of students. In turn, it will aid Cornell in retaining top students and, through Cornell Tech, fostering a robust tech ecosystem in New York City.

“In today’s world, technology is just absolutely exploding, and using technology properly is going to be a huge difference-maker in the world and in our country, so educating these students is very important,” said Follett, who retired as CEO of Follett Corp. in 1994. “To be in New York City, which is a very thriving place to be, and to have the education from Ithaca is just a win-win.”

The $2.5 million endowment will provide fellowships to Cornell Engineering undergraduate alumni enrolled in Master of Engineering programs at Cornell Tech, beginning in 2020. Once fully operational, it will support three to five students a year.

Follett, who received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, attended Cornell with the help of the GI Bill, a New York state scholarship for veterans and teaching work. “I got a fabulous education, and it didn’t cost me anything,” he said.

Now, his family’s gift will help defray costs for a new generation of engineers and entrepreneurs.

Encouraging top students who are already familiar with Cornell’s culture to attend Cornell Tech will also help advance President Martha E. Pollack’s vision for “One Cornell,” in which the two campuses complement and strengthen each other.

“The Follett Family Fellowship brings the campuses of Cornell closer together by supporting students who pursue graduate studies in engineering and computer science at Cornell Tech after their undergraduate studies on the main Ithaca campus,” said Dan Huttenlocher, the Jack and Rilla Neafsey Dean and Vice Provost of Cornell Tech.

Cornell Tech’s admissions team will promote the program at informational sessions targeting Cornell Engineering juniors considering master’s degrees. Cornell Tech will also partner with departments including Operations Research and Information Engineering, Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering to help identify potential Follett Family fellows, though Cornell Engineering graduates from any department would qualify.

“This generous gift from Don and Mibs will allow students to take full advantage of everything Cornell has to offer,” said Lance Collins, the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering. “They can get a world-class undergraduate engineering education in Ithaca and then head to Roosevelt Island, where their master’s studies at Cornell Tech will immerse them in New York City’s thriving tech environment.”

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Rebecca Valli