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For Texas Woman’s University, the sky is not just the limit but a goal, a platform of opportunity to be explored and conquered. The University’s System Board of Regents announced a record-breaking $15 million donation from the Doswell Foundation on May 17, 2023. This generous gift marks a significant milestone as it will spearhead the establishment of a groundbreaking aviation program, addressing the industry-wide pilot shortage and tackling the underrepresentation of women in aviation.
The board authorized the naming of the new initiative as the Doswell School of Aeronautical Sciences, with an anticipated start date for enrolment in Fall 2024. Approximately 25 students will be accepted into the program each year, laying a robust foundation for diversifying the aviation industry.
The university is eagerly awaiting authorization from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to offer a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Sciences. This course will feature two specializations – professional pilot training and aviation management. These tracks will equip students with an in-depth understanding of aviation, fostering the next generation of female pilots and industry leaders.
Stacie McDavid, Chairwoman of the Board, shared, “Texas Woman’s University and the Doswell Foundation share a vision of gender equality in aviation. The establishment of the Doswell School of Aeronautical Sciences is a monumental stride towards this vision. We express our deep gratitude towards the Doswell Foundation for their enduring support and remarkable generosity.”
The unprecedented gift from the Doswell Foundation is the largest single donation in Texas Woman’s University’s history, serving as seed money to hire faculty, purchase equipment, and provide scholarships for deserving students. Texas Woman’s is also actively seeking collaborations with major airlines and flight training schools to support the program.
Chancellor Carine Feyten added, “At Texas Woman’s, we aim to create impactful opportunities for women, be it high-paying jobs or leadership roles. The inauguration of this new program brings us one step closer to achieving our goals.”
The aviation program aspires to attract more women to the industry by mitigating cost barriers. Texas Woman’s plans to buy simulators to offset expenses for students and facilitate hands-on learning. FAA-approved coursework will also enable graduates to apply for a Restricted Airline Transport Pilot Certification upon graduation, reducing the number of required flight hours from 1,500 to 1,000. This approach allows graduates to become commercial pilots faster and more affordably.
Currently, Texas Woman’s has a student body of nearly 16,000, 89% of whom are women. Given the industry demand for over 600,000 new civilian pilots over the next two decades, and with women making up only around 5% of all commercial pilots, this program offers a promising path to more equitable representation in the skies. The Doswell School of Aeronautical Sciences is ready for takeoff, prepared to embark on a mission to make a substantial impact on the aviation industry.