WATERVILLE — Ten students in each Colby College class, starting with the Class of 2024, will receive scholarship funding from the new Pulver Science Scholars Program, according to the school’s Vice President for Communications Ruth Jackson.

The college announced the creation of the program along with a $5 million commitment from alumnus and trustee David Pulver and his wife, Carol, on Friday afternoon. It is designed to “help ensure future discovery, leading to treatments and cures in critical areas of human health” by subsidizing on- and off- campus student biomedical research as well as bringing prominent experts to campus to engage with the recipients. It will not cover tuition or room and board costs, which hover around $69,400 per year, according to a pamphlet from the college.

Candidates will be selected upon admission to Colby based on their demonstrated achievement in the sciences during high school. Applicants’ socioeconomic status is not a determining factor, according to Jackson.

“The Pulver Science Scholars Program supports the experiences — not demonstrated financial need — for these students to attend Colby,” Jackson wrote in an email to the Morning Sentinel.

All prospective students — including those admitted during early decision — will be eligible for the funds. When the program is fully rolled out in five years time, a total of 40 students will be enrolled in the Pulver Science Scholars Program, said Jackson. Colby has an annual matriculation of about 2,000. A competitive liberal arts institution, it accepted 13 percent of 12,313 first-year applicants last year, according to its Class of 2022 profile.

Jackson noted that the Pulver funding is one of the college’s only merit-based awards distributed to incoming freshmen. She maintained that all of Colby’s financial aid is need-based, and the school touts a vow to meet 100 percent of accepted students’ demonstrated financial need without requiring loans.

Its Presidential Scholars Program is the other main source of funds granted to first-years “based on their scholarly achievement in high school,” Jackson said. There are about 30 Presidential Scholars in each class.

“It supports additional opportunities, not financial aid,” Jackson said of the Presidential Scholars Program. Recipients have access to paid fellowship opportunities with Colby faculty during their first year and can access grants of up to $3,000 during the summer of their sophomore or junior years or during a January term.

The school also offers at least three merit-based scholarship programs specifically for students from underrepresented communities, including Colby Achievement Program in the Sciences, the Posse Program and the Ralph J. Bunche Scholarship Program.

The Pulver Science Scholars Program is specifically science-oriented. It was created in part to combat heightened competition for federal research funding, which the college’s Friday news release noted has dropped to 44 percent of the amount awarded in 2015. Colby’s president, David Greene, stated that institutions have been able to hire fewer research assistants as a result.

“The Pulvers’ vision allows us to create a private solution to this serious challenge while encouraging and educating the next generation of scientific leaders,” he wrote in the announcement.

Pulver scholars will work with scientists at Jackson Laboratory, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory in addition to members of Colby’s faculty.

The new program marks Colby’s third major financial commitment to the sciences in the past three years. In 2018, it introduced the Linde Packman Lab for Biosciences Innovation — which funds biotechnology-, biomedicine-, biochemistry-, ocean sciences-, genomics- and bioinformatics-related research — and internship or travel opportunities for students during summer or January terms. In 2017, it created the Buck Lab for the Environment and Climate Change to finance similar opportunities for students interested in climate disruption.

David Pulver decided to contribute the multi-million dollar gift partially out of gratitude for the medical technology involved with his recovery from bladder cancer 10 years ago.

“Carol and I are thrilled to contribute to Colby in this way,” said David Pulver. “We know Colby will recruit remarkable students for this program and are fully confident in the College’s ability to create opportunities that will prepare them to become leaders in the scientific world.”

Meg Robbins — 861-9239
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Twitter: @megrobbins