Powers Fund donates $100K to YSU WISE program

Catherine Powers presented the donation of $100,000 to YSU President Cynthia E. Anderson for the university's Women in Science and Engineering Career Day.

Catherine Powers presents a check for $100,000 to YSU President Cynthia E. Anderson to be donated to the Women in Science and Engineering Career Day at Youngstown State University.

The Edward W. Powers Charitable Fund is donating $100,000 to endow the annual Women in Science and Engineering Career Day at Youngstown State University.

The gift will help enhance and expand the Career Day event and ultimately could inspire more young women in area middle and high schools to pursue careers in science and engineering.

“I want to thank the Powers family for this generous donation to the university and to a program that has changed the lives of so many young women,” YSU President Cynthia E. Anderson said.

The event will now be called the Edward W. Powers Women in Science and Engineering Career Day.

“I am so pleased, as a member of the distribution committee of the E.W. Powers Charitable Fund, to further Ted’s commitment to education,” said Catherine Powers, the great niece of Edward W. Powers. “He and his wife, Alice, were supporters of YSU, and I know he would have enjoyed getting to know the young women who have exhibited an interest in the scientific and engineering fields.”

The Women in Science and Engineering Career Day, or WISE, was started in 1997 at YSU to help expose young women in grades 6 through 12 to career opportunities and successful female role models in science and engineering. Since then, more than 1,500 young women from more than 100 schools throughout Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania have attended the event, and it is believed that dozens have gone on to pursue studies and careers in science and engineering fields.

The 15th annual WISE Career Day will be Saturday, March 3 on the YSU campus.

“I am very excited about the donation from the Powers family, as it will allow us to invite nationally recognized women scientists and engineers to speak to the students,” said Diana Fagan, YSU professor of Biological Sciences and WISE director.

Until the early 1900s, scientists and engineers were almost exclusively male. While the number of women participating in science and engineering fields has increased since then, women remain poorly represented, Fagan said. Women make up more than 50 percent of all college students, but the number of women choosing science and engineering fields falls far behind other majors.

WISE Career Day features women who are working scientists talking about their careers, and it also includes hands-on activities in YSU’s science labs. This year’s event features a keynote address by Pamela Gay, assistant research professor in the Center for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, where she runs the CosmoQuest citizen science project and teaches classes in physics and computer science.

WISE is part of an ongoing effort by the YSU College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics to increase enrollment of female students. In the past five years, enrollment of females in YSU STEM College has jumped by 117 students, or nearly 19 percent.

Edward W. Powers was born in 1896 in Youngstown and graduated high school from The Rayen School on the city’s North Side. He was studying economics at the University of Wisconsin when World War I broke out. He served in the Navy. When his father died in 1932, Powers took over the family jewelry store until 1939, when he became a partner and stockbroker at Butler Wick. He was known by many as “Mr. IBM” because of his investment success in the company. He received many awards and honors. He was married to the former Alice Resch.

The charitable fund, which is now held at PNC, was started in 1967. In 1968, the Powers gave $250,000 to the Youngstown Symphony Society to purchase the old Warner Theater in downtown Youngstown. The auditorium was renamed Powers Auditorium and is still today the home of the Symphony. The Edward W. and Alice R. Powers Trust also makes significant annual gifts to SCOPE and to the YSU Alice Powers Memorial Scholarship on an annual basis.

About Youngstown State University
Youngstown State University is a comprehensive emerging urban research university that offers over 14,000 students more than 135 undergraduate and graduate programs backed by a strong tradition of teaching, scholarship and public service. As a major educational and economic development resource in the region, YSU is known for its focus on academic research and creative programs that transform its students into successful professionals, scholars and leaders. Located in the heart of the Tech Belt between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, YSU provides opportunities for students to actively participate with accomplished faculty, often in one-on-one settings, on advanced research and creative collaborations. The beautiful 145-acre campus includes high-tech classrooms, state-of-the-art labs and performance facilities, a variety of on-campus housing options and recreational facilities among the best in the nation.