PRINCETON, N.J. -- Recognizing an international need for leaders who can harness technology to solve societal problems, alumnus and innovator in education Dennis J. Keller and his wife Constance Templeton Keller have given Princeton University $25 million to strengthen links between engineering and the liberal arts.
The Kellers' gift will endow and name the University's recently created Center for Innovation in Engineering Education in addition to supporting other initiatives in engineering and ecology.
The new center fosters teaching and student projects that cross conventional academic disciplines, preparing students in all fields -- within engineering and across the natural sciences, humanities and social sciences -- to work side by side to solve problems.
"Major issues facing society today -- energy, environment, health, security -- require a mix of technological, political, economic and historical perspectives," said President Shirley M. Tilghman. "The Kellers, in their tremendous generosity, recognize that need and have given us an exceptionally strong foundation on which to integrate engineering into a liberal arts education."
The gift builds on Princeton's longstanding strength in educating engineers who are broadly grounded in the liberal arts and can reach beyond purely technical approaches to achieve wise and creative solutions. The new center also seeks to extend those connections by creating and supporting engineering courses that attract liberal arts students. For all students, the center emphasizes entrepreneurship, leadership and service.
This initiative comes at a time when studies of the engineering profession and economic competitiveness, including two recent reports from the National Academies, are calling for better integration of technical problem solving within a general education. "With its strengths in both engineering and the liberal arts, Princeton is in a unique position to respond to the need for a new approach to engineering education," said H. Vincent Poor, dean of engineering. "The gift from Dennis and Connie Keller will help set a standard that we expect will have an impact well beyond Princeton."
The pursuit of innovation in engineering education has a personal resonance for Dennis Keller, a charter trustee and vice chair of the executive committee of the Princeton University board of trustees. Keller is the founding chairman of DeVry Inc., one of the world's largest publicly held higher education organizations. DeVry provides educational opportunities to more than 100,000 students worldwide, with an emphasis on preparing them for careers in technology, healthcare, business and management.