It takes more than strong technical skills to make it in the engineering world these days, which is why longtime donors David M. Weidman (BS ’78) and his wife, Rachel Nielsen Weidman (BA ’77), gave $10 million to BYU’s Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology. The donation will establish the new Weidman Center for Global Leadership, akin to global leadership programs at engineering leaders MIT and Stanford.
The Weidmans’ interest in global engineering is personal. David is CEO of Celanese Corporation, a Dallas-based Fortune 500 chemical manufacturing company that derives roughly 80 percent of its revenue from outside the United States. And as alumni and members of BYU’s President’s Leadership Council, the Weidmans are familiar with BYU’s unique position in global engineering; many BYU students have been immersed in other cultures through missions or study abroad experiences, and more than 70 percent of students are fluent in at least one foreign language. “Being able to understand the fact that there are cultural differences . . . is a positive distinguishing characteristic that will set you apart,” David told students and faculty in a March campus visit to announce the donation.
The fully endowed Weidman Center, to be located in the Clyde Building, will expand the college’s network and bring industry professionals to BYU for special leadership lectures. It will also assist students and faculty in international projects and competitions and increase study abroad opportunities for students in a college that already sends more than 100 students abroad each year. With this focus on global leadership, David hopes BYU will be “globally recognized as the premier school for developing engineers and technologists who are fit for the 21st century.”