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New Fellowship Honors Engineering Dean’s Legacy

What better way to celebrate the achievements of an innovative educator than to invest in the future of promising students?

The Board of Advisors for Tufts University School of Engineering has done just that by creating a graduate fellowship fund in honor of Dean Linda Abriola, who has led the school for more than a decade. Abriola, who also holds appointments as a professor of civil and environmental engineering and adjunct professor of chemical and biological engineering, will return to the faculty as a university professor when she steps down from her leadership role later in 2015.

Steven Karol, A76, A04P, A13P, chair of the school’s Board of Advisors, and his family energized the fund by offering a “Chairman’s Challenge” to match gifts from the rest of the board. The board’s enthusiastic response exceeded expectations. The university, through its Financial Aid Initiative, will match the total raised by the board to create an endowment of more than $1.3 million for the graduate fellowship.

“The board wanted to do something for Linda,” Karol says. “We've watched the school grow and develop significantly under her leadership. In just about every category, the school is far better off than it was when she got here.”

On Dean Abriola’s watch, the School of Engineering has grown in size, quality, and national visibility. In 2014, the undergraduate acceptance rate was at a highly selective 14 percent, with women making up a third of the student body. In addition, applications to the graduate school increased by 22 percent. The school established the Center for STEM Diversity to foster the recruitment and retention of students from underrepresented groups in engineering and the sciences.

An accomplished and pioneering researcher, Abriola has expertise in groundwater contamination and remediation. She developed widely used mathematical models to describe the movement of contaminants within the ground.

“I believe that engineering is an extremely important discipline for the betterment of mankind, and Dean Abriola has made a big difference both at Tufts and within the field of engineering,” Karol says. “Hopefully her legacy and this fellowship in her honor will continue that important work.”