Striking a Match: New Graduate Fellowships Sparked by Donor Generosity
Decades before any fourth grader could define “global warming,” John Swift ’76, a bright undergraduate majoring in Conservation of Natural Resources, was aware of the threat and starting a career to help save the planet.
Now Swift is an organic farmer with a 600-acre ranch in San Luis Obispo, and he is bringing his dedication to the environment back to Berkeley with a $250,000 gift for graduate students enrolled in a new master’s program in sustainable development. The gift was augmented by an innovative matching program offered by the Graduate Division and by the MacArthur Foundation’s support for the new Master’s of Development Practice.
“It’s matched on two sides,” says Swift of his graduate fellowship. “That’s always a nice thing for a donor.”
The Graduate Fellowship Matching Program was launched in 2008 after Graduate Division Dean Andrew Szeri committed to allocating ongoing, annual amounts of $1 million in matching funds. Donors to schools and colleges across the University—from journalism to biological science—seized the opportunity and have created 31 new fellowships to date.
Swift, who is involved in global environmental work with indigenous communities from British Columbia to Papua New Guinea, says he sees a vital need for donors to fill some gaps. “It’s important for students’ education and the well-being of the good international development work being accomplished,” he said.