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November 17, 2003

$1 million gift to scholarship fund will support women in engineering

Fund established in memory of alumna Amy Snader

By Tim Stephens

Women studying engineering at UCSC will be the beneficiaries of a $1 million contribution to the Amy Beth Snader Memorial Scholarship Fund from the estate of Barbara Snader.

"We have a strong interest in supporting women in engineering, and these scholarships will help us recruit and retain the best students," said Engineering Dean Steve Kang.

The scholarship fund was established in 1997 in memory of Barbara Snader's daughter, Amy, a UCSC alumna who died in a hiking accident while on vacation in Hawaii.

The new contribution dramatically increases the amount of scholarship funds available to support students in UCSC's Baskin School of Engineering.

The endowed fund will now generate nearly $45,000 annually in direct student support, said Steve Kang, dean of the engineering school.

"This is a very significant gift, certainly the largest ever made for scholarships to the Baskin School of Engineering," Kang said.

The Amy Beth Snader Scholarships are awarded to women in engineering on the basis of merit, and Kang noted that the recognition they provide to the recipients can be as important as the financial support. The scholarships will help the school's efforts to increase the number of women pursuing engineering degrees at UCSC, he said. Currently, about 15 percent of undergraduates in the School of Engineering are women, which is on par with the national average.

"We have a strong interest in supporting women in engineering, and these scholarships will help us recruit and retain the best students," Kang said.

Amy Snader earned a bachelor's degree in computer science in 1983 and went on to a highly successful career as a software engineer at Santa Cruz Operation (SCO), a computer software company cofounded by UCSC alumnus Doug Michels. Many of the initial contributions to the scholarship fund established in her memory came from Snader's colleagues at SCO.

"Amy was an exceptional woman who had the vision, confidence, and tenacity to develop her technical talents and pursue a software engineering career in spite of any social biases to the contrary," said Michels, now CEO of Tarantella.

"She was one of the first female Unix Operating System engineers we were able to recruit, and she quickly dispelled any gender-based stereotypes that anyone may have harbored by performing with a level of skill well beyond what would have been expected of any new grad," he said. "As she grew professionally, Amy provided inspiration and leadership that her former coworkers still recall with admiration today. It's wonderful that the recipients of this scholarship will also have the opportunity to be inspired by her, and in turn, help keep her spirit alive."

Snader's work at SCO made a lasting impression on many of her colleagues, including Dean Thomas, who was engineering manager at SCO when she was hired.

"Amy had a commitment to excellence second to none. I can remember a grateful customer giving her a case of champagne for getting them out of a jam, and she was the only one who could have done it," Thomas said. "We miss her still."

Since its establishment, the Amy Beth Snader Memorial Scholarship Fund has provided significant support for several UCSC students, and it will now be able to benefit many more, said John Idstrom, director of development for the School of Engineering.

The $1 million contribution is the third largest gift ever made to the UCSC campus for scholarships and the second largest gift to UCSC from an estate.

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