Major Gift EngineeringDecember 15, 2016 (Jackson, Miss.) - Belhaven's new Engineering Partnership received a major gift of $750,000 to provide the start-up costs for the new dual degree program with the University of Mississippi. This substantial gift from Wirt and Linda Yerger will significantly advance Belhaven's dramatic growth in STEM-related studies.

The gift will provide faculty salaries for the first three years as well as scholarships for top-performing freshmen accepted into the Engineering program in Belhaven's School of Science and Mathematics.

Honoring this strategic gift, the University has named Dr. John Estes as the first holder of the newly established “Yerger Chair of Mathematics and Director of the Engineering Partnership.” Dr. John Estes, said, “It is difficult to not overstate the significance of a contribution like the one we have received from Wirt and Linda Yerger. In addition to providing support to faculty, instrumentation and laboratories, such a gift as this gives Belhaven's Engineering Partnership an impressive endorsement and validation.”

“Beginning a program of this magnitude is expensive, but critical to serving students who want a Christian foundation in their education for these important disciplines,” said Belhaven President Dr. Roger Parrott. “This gift will have a long reach, because once the program is strong and self-funding, it will serve engineering students for decades to come. In the years ahead many lives will be touched because of this gift to get the program started right.”

The partnership between Belhaven's School of Science and Mathematics and the University of Mississippi School of Engineering has received high acclaim after it was announced a year ago. Fifteen freshmen were accepted for the current fall semester, and applications are competitive for next year's class.

Because of the generosity of this gift, students will have the opportunity for hands-on learning with modern technology. Dr. Estes adds, “From mathematical modeling using advanced computer software to designing blue prints of prototypes to be printed on 3D printers, Belhaven students are learning career-building tools in an environment of Christian academics.”

Dr. Estes plans to network with engineers and technology companies in the area to provide unique opportunities for students to test their ideas and develop a vision for their future. “Belhaven will have the backing to recruit academically competitive students and a voice to partner with engineering and technology firms in the Jackson area,” points out Dr. Estes.

The partnership enables students to study at Belhaven their first three years to complete requirements for their science core and liberal arts. They may then enroll in an upper level engineering curriculum at Ole Miss for an additional two years of study. With all requirements met, students will receive a degree from Belhaven in Mathematics or Chemistry and a degree from Ole Miss in Engineering.