The College of Arts and Sciences recently announced the inception of the Knauss Family Scholarship, a $2 million gift that will annually fund more than $150,000 worth of new scholarships for students admitted to the College of Arts and Sciences through its selective direct-admit program.
Funded by IU alumnus and former Clorox CEO, Donald R. Knauss, and his wife, Ellie M. Knauss, these scholarships are meant to increase the enrollment of exceptional students who might lack the necessary financial resources.
“Our goal is to attract more students to pursue the liberal arts,” said Travis Paulin, the executive director of advancement at the College of Arts and Sciences.
After submitting their scholarship applications, students will be matched with the scholarships for which they are eligible.
“The scholarships are for incoming freshmen who have been admitted to IU, meet the criteria for direct admission into the College of Arts and Sciences and have indicated they plan to major in the College of Arts and Sciences,” Paulin said.
Paulin said the amount of money for each scholarship will vary and will be awarded based on the scholarship committee’s assessment of what kind of scholarship would be most helpful to that particular student.
“The great thing about the Knauss scholarships is that the eligibility is pretty wide open,” Paulin said.
Paulin said the scholarships are intended to attract students from diverse backgrounds as well as students who would be unable to attend IU without financial support.
“These are four-year renewable scholarships, because the last thing you want to do is offer an incoming student a scholarship and then take it away from them after their freshman year,” Paulin said.
Paulin said as long as students maintain consistent, solid academic progress toward a degree and continue to major in any degree area in the college of Arts and Sciences, they will continue to receive funding from the scholarship for eight semesters.
“They’re not necessarily strictly need-based, they’re not necessarily strictly merit-based,” Paulin said.
Paulin said the scholarship serves as an opportunity for the College to recruit students who might not otherwise pursue an academic career in liberal arts.
“If you look at corporate CEOs for Fortune 500 companies, the majority of them have liberal arts degrees,” Paulin said. “Some of them also have MBA degrees or law degrees, but the majority of them have a liberal arts degree of some sort.”
Knauss, who has spent decades in high-level leadership positions at several Fortune 500 companies, cites his liberal arts education as a central part of his success, according to an IU press release.
“We’ve got someone who has received a liberal arts degree and education who has not only gone on to be really successful in corporate America, but also feels so strongly about the liberal arts background and training he received,” Paulin said. “He wants to give back and provide that opportunity for more students.”
In addition to helping the College of Arts and Sciences meet its goal of attracting students to study liberal arts at IU, the scholarship also contributes to IU’s current $2.5 billion bicentennial campaign.
“Don and Ellie’s gift is wonderful because not only does it help meet one of our specific goals to attract students to study liberal arts at IU, but it also counts toward this big, very ambitious fundraising goal that President McRobbie has set at $2.5 billion dollars,” Paulin said.
The Knauss Family Scholarship qualifies for the bicentennial campaign matching program, which provides matching support for all new endowed undergraduate scholarships of $50,000 or more and all new endowed graduate fellowships of $250,000 or more.
“The generosity of Don and Ellie is extraordinary, and their lives exemplify the values and virtues of a liberal arts education,” said Larry Singell, executive dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Singell said Knauss’s career is a prime example of the breadth of accomplishments that can be achieved with a degree in arts and sciences.
“This remarkable gift will allow the College to attract the best and the brightest freshmen and support them as they pursue their dreams and goals,” Singell said. “Through these direct-admit scholarships, the Knauss family is helping to empower the next generation of College alumni with the transformative skills and values of a liberal arts education, creating insightful leaders and informed citizens.”