Gifts in Action -
Debra and Ira Cohen
MEET THE COHENS
Fellowships are the most effective way to recruit the future leaders in computer science. In order to be competitive as a top computer science department we must be able to offer the most talented graduate students the opportunity to attend graduate school without the burden of working or incurring student loans. Debra and Ira Cohen are helping the Department realize the recruiting power in graduate fellowships.
HOW THEY GAVE
In the fall of 2006, the Department added the Debra and Ira Cohen Graduate Fellowship in Computer Science to the 7 fellowships it already offers, taking it closer towards its goal of 13 new fellowships over the next 3 years. The Provost’s office will also match the income from this gift.
The first student to be awarded the Debra and Ira Cohen Graduate Fellowship in Computer Science is James Lin. The Cohen’s generosity has been an integral part of the development of the Department. In 1995 they endowed the Sara and Louis Cohen Scholarship for minority undergraduate students in computer science that honors Ira’s grandparents. Then in 1996 they established an endowment for the William and Ruth Witt Scholarship that provides support to female undergraduate students in computer science and honors Debra’s parents. Both scholarships are awarded based on merit.
WHY THEY GAVE
Debra’s parents both died of cancer and she realizes how important bioinformatics will be to finding a cure for cancer. When the Department of Computer Science announced last year that we would begin a graduate program in bioinformatics, this seemed like a natural fit for the Cohen Fellowship.
WHAT DEBRA COHEN SAYS
“This fellowship truly was just a continuation of our commitment to the College of Engineering at U of I and in particular to the Computer Science Department.” Debra said. “We had already established two undergraduate scholarships and over the years we’ve been able to see how the scholarships have helped the students succeed in their respective educational fields.”