by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Dickinson was transformational for Dave ’74 and Sue Stebbins Souerwine '75. In return, they’ve given back to the college in likewise transformational ways by supporting leading-edge programs that provide students with vital data analytics and quantitative skills.
The Souerwines are the newest members of Dickinson’s Founders’ Society, honoring dedicated alumni, parents and friends of the college with a cumulative gift of $1 million or more to the college. Dickinson celebrated the couple’s induction with a ceremony in Memorial Hall, a reception in the Rector Atrium and a plaque in the Souerwines’ honor, now on permanent display in Old West's Founders Hall.
Dave and Sue met and fell in love as undergraduate math majors and went on to build successful careers in the burgeoning computer and medical-device fields. Witnessing shifts in their own industries and in the working world at large, they understood the increasing need for professionals across all sectors to understand and interpret data. In 2017, they connected with Emily Marshall, associate professor of economics and data analytics, in hopes of becoming more deeply involved in the college’s work in that realm.
Marshall is the faculty director of Dickinson’s Quantitative Reasoning (QR) Center, which provides peer tutor services to support students in any course with quantitative content. With the Souerwines’ support and guidance, the QR Center has grown more than 500% in number of visits per academic year since its founding. This year, it provided help to students in courses taught by 85 instructors, representing 23 departments, and it continues to expand programming, including through a new Quantitative Reasoning Associates program.
“None of this would have been possible without Dave and Sue’s support,” Marshall says. “Every day I see the ways in which they make a difference in the lives of our students as they learn to evaluate and better understand quantitative information and data to make better-informed decisions.”
The Souerwines also have been instrumental in the development of Dickinson’s distinctive data analytics program. They were involved from the start, taking part in a 2019 summer study group examining possibilities for expanding existing data science efforts at the college—and also in a subsequent multidisciplinary team that proposed a major in data analytics with a liberal-arts, ethics-infused approach.
“This is cutting-edge work,” says President John E. Jones III ’77, P’11. “When we launched the Revolutionary Challenge a couple of years ago, this was exactly the kind of project that we hoped to receive.”
After a successful round of fundraising, anchored by vital support from the Souerwines, the major launched in 2021. The college is awarding degrees to its first four data-analytics graduates this spring, and 79 students have declared a major in the program. The Souerwines remain involved through the Data Analytics Advisory Committee.
“This rapid implementation would not have been possible without Dave and Sue’s support,” says Dick Forrester, professor of mathematics and data analytics and, along with Marshall, co-chair of the data analytics program.
Ruby Ngo ’22, a former tutor at the QR Center, works as a business analyst for Bank of America. During the induction ceremony, Ngo spoke to the ways that the Souerwines’ work through the college already makes a difference in the lives of young alumni.
“My Dickinson experience laid down a strong foundation in technical and critical thinking that continuously supports my learning on the job,” Ngo says. “In joining with Dickinson, offering expert guidance and generous support, Dave and Sue are making sure that Dickinson students can prepare themselves to solve problems in the world that lies ahead all of us.”
The Souerwines are gratified by their role in that work. “Everything we’ve been able to do in our lives was made possible by Dickinson,” says Dave. “We couldn’t be happier with the way the program has turned out.”
Published May 10, 2023