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Stanford doctoral students in drama

Stanford doctoral students in any humanities field (including drama, pictured) may be nominated for funding from the Pigott Scholars Program. PHOTO: Linda A. Cicero/Stanford News Service

Pigott Scholars Program Champions Humanities

Spring 2012

"One of the real strengths of Stanford is that it offers tremendous programs in the humanities, science, and engineering," says Mark Pigott '76, MS '84, '98. Having studied industrial engineering as an undergraduate, and then earned a master's in business, Pigott later returned for a bachelor's in the humanities—all at Stanford.

"As people pursue engineering and science, they can enhance their leadership skills by having exposure to the humanities," he says. "These fellowships will endow gifted candidates who will share their joy of learning in every field of the humanities."

With his assistance last summer, Stanford launched a $4 million program to support exceptional students pursuing doctorates in the humanities. The new Pigott Scholars Program is part of a 10-decade tradition of the Pigott family contributing to Stanford.

"For over 100 years, my family has championed education," says Pigott, chairman and chief executive officer of PACCAR Inc., a Fortune 200 technology company founded by his great-grandfather in the Pacific Northwest. Joining him in supporting the new program are his wife, Cindy, and daughters Kerry, '09, MA '10, and Turner, '11, MA '12. All of them see the humanities as a pillar of academics. "My family is pleased to contribute to the outstanding research of bright, motivated graduate students," shared Mark.

For Richard Saller, the Vernon R. and Lysbeth Warren Anderson Dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences, the program is a coup. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation matched the Pigott family's $2 million gift to create the $4 million endowment, making the family's support even more valuable. "The establishment of a leadership program like the Pigott Scholars provides our brightest young scholars with support and recognition during a critical period of their academic careers," Saller says. "The program will support doctoral students as they transition from classwork and oral examinations to their dissertations"—the most critical juncture for a successful academic career, according to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Beginning in 2011–12, designated department chairs will nominate outstanding third-year students for the program, rotating through all 11 departments in the humanities, such as drama, linguistics, and philosophy. The number of scholars is expected to grow from two initially to five or more annually as the fund grows.

The Pigott Scholars Program builds upon earlier gifts from the family, which includes the Pigott Family School of Education Professorship, the Mark Pigott OBE Professorship in the School of Humanities and Sciences, and the Pigott Theater.

Mark Pigott is also an award-winning Stanford volunteer. As committee co-chair of his 35th reunion campaign in 2011 he helped lead the class in achieving its $10 million campaign goal. The Stanford Alumni Association has recognized his three decades of support with the Governors' Award for "exemplary volunteer service to the university over an extended period." There have been other honors for Pigott: being named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, a Commander of the Order of the Crown in Belgium, and an Officer of the Orange-Nassau in the Netherlands.