Olin, the man
Franklin W. Olin (1860-1951) was an engineer, entrepreneur and professional baseball player. Raised in Vermont lumber camps and lacking a high school diploma, he qualified himself for entrance to Cornell University through self-instruction. At Cornell he majored in civil engineering and was captain of the baseball team. He even played major league baseball during the summers to finance his education. He went on to found the company known today as the Olin Corporation, a Fortune 1000 company.
Olin, the Foundation: F.W. Olin Foundation
In 1938, Mr. Olin transferred a large part of this personal wealth to a private philanthropic foundation. In more than six decades of philanthropy, the F. W. Olin Foundation awarded grants totaling more than $300 million to construct and fully equip 78 buildings on 58 independent college campuses. Recipients include Babson, Bucknell, Carleton, Case-Western, Colgate, Cornell, DePauw, Harvey Mudd, Johns Hopkins, Marquette, Rose-Hulman Institute, Tufts, University of San Diego, University of Southern California, Vanderbilt, and Worcester Polytechnic. The Foundation's commitment of $460 million to Olin College remains one of the largest grants in the history of American higher education.
Olin, the vision
Starting in the late 1980's, the National Science Foundation and engineering community at-large started calling for reform in engineering education. In order to serve the needs of the growing global economy, it was clear that engineers needed to have business and entrepreneurship skills, creativity and an understanding of the social, political and economic contexts of engineering. in the mid-1990s, the F.W. Olin Foundation decided the best way to maximize its impact was to help create a college from scratch that can address these emerging needs.
Olin, the college
The Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering received its educational charter from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1997, the same year the Foundation announced its ambitious plans for the college. Planning and architectural design work for a state-of-the-art campus began almost immediately. By the end of 1999, the new institution's leadership team had been hired, and site development work commenced on 70 acres adjacent to Babson College. Olin's first faculty members joined the college by September 2000.
The founding faculty came well qualified to their task of inventing the new curriculum, but at a college dedicated to being student-centered, they could not do it alone. The college recruited student 30 student "partners" for a special pre-freshman year (2001-02) during which they worked closely with the faculty to create the curriculum and a framework for the student life programs.
In August 2002, the Olin Partners were joined by equally well-qualified classmates to form Olin's inaugural freshman class of 75 students. Other institutional milestones since the opening of the college include the first Commencement (2006), accreditation (2006-07), the establishment of the Babson-Olin-Wellesley collaboration (2009), the first Reunion (2011) and the 10th anniversary celebration (2012).
State-of-the-art facilities matched with first-rate students, nationally renowned professors and unbridled enthusiasm have made Olin an exciting whirlwind of activity and excellence. Olin's commitment to continual innovation and improvement promises to keep Olin College a place where the dust will never settle.