Society of Schmitt Fellows

Comprised of recipients of the Arthur J. Schmitt Leadership Fellowships in Science and Engineering and the Clare Boothe Luce Presidential Fellowships in Science and Engineering, the Schmitt Society is a service and networking program for the most innovative graduate students in the STEM disciplines at the University of Notre Dame.

What is a Schmitt Leadership Fellowship?

Schmitt Fellows spring dinner & poster session 1 176k jpgFellows at the Schmitt dinner and poster session

Schmitt leadership fellows are premier doctoral students in the science and engineering fields at the University of Notre Dame. Schmitt and Luce fellowships are awarded to the most outstanding students across all disciplines in both the College of Science and the College of Engineering, with roughly 15 new positions available per year. Schmitt leadership fellows are among approximately the top 15 percent of all doctoral students in the country. The primary difference between a Schmitt Leadership Fellowship and a Luce Fellowship is that Luce Fellowships are granted to women, while Schmitt Leadership Fellowships are not restricted by gender. Because of the shared backgrounds and research interests, the Luce Fellows are included in the Society as full members.

More about the Arthur J. Schmitt Leadership Fellowship in Science & Engineering

More about the Clare Boothe Luce Presidential Fellowship in Science & Engineering

At the University of Notre Dame, Schmitt leadership fellows receive full tuition scholarships and highly competitive stipends that are guaranteed for five years (provided the student makes satisfactory progress toward their degrees) in addition to the University paying the full student health insurance premium during the term of the fellowship. Schmitt leadership fellowships are limited to those students who are United States citizens or permanent residents.

What is the Society of Schmitt Fellows?

Schmitt Fellows spring dinner & poster session 1 198k jpgSchmitt Fellows discuss their findings at the poster session

Designed to include fellows into a community of like-minded students devoted to academics and outreach, the Society of Schmitt Fellows is a student-run organization created to facilitate an intellectual community among Schmitt leadership fellows. The society meets monthly to provide a forum for Schmitt leadership fellows to help accomplish their three main goals – promote community outreach, communicate with Schmitt fellows at other institutions, and encourage social interaction among fellows. Through society meetings, Schmitt leadership fellows have coordinated service opportunities, planned a leadership conference with Schmitt fellows from other institutions, and organized social events, including bowling and baseball games.

Service Opportunities

Schmitt leadership fellows are encouraged to engage in service projects on a regular basis, with an open-ended option as to the scope of the projects. Collectively, fellows select a group project at the beginning of each academic year and are encouraged to work on a collaborative project, though fellows are also permitted to undertake a project of their own. In recent years, a number of ongoing projects have developed.


  • The Science Café: The Science Café is a student-led community outreach program that began in April 2009. In this context, a café is a live event in which a scientist opens a conversation on a current topic to any interested person. Discussions have been facilitated by both faculty and students, and regularly draw attendees from a wide range of backgrounds. Past topics have included nanotechnology, biofuels, the genetic background of infectious diseases, and autism.
  • Mentoring: Schmitt leadership fellows are also encouraged to serve as mentors for students from a number of groups in the community. Schmitt leadership fellows have reached out to assist students from under-represented groups in the Building Bridges Mentoring Program and the Honors Students and High Achievers Program, those needing special assistance, the Trio Upward Bound Program, and undergraduates during a summer Research Experience for Undergraduates program.
  • Other Opportunities: Schmitt leadership fellows participate in many other opportunities. As a group, fellows have assisted with judging science fair projects at the Northern Indiana Regional Science Fair and promoted higher education for underprivileged children through the Edison School Project. In the spring of 2012, Notre Dame Schmitt Fellows planned and conducted a conference on leadership for Schmitt Fellows in programs from all of the institutions supported by the Foundation.

About the Schmitt Foundation

Schmitt Fellows spring dinner & poster session 2 157k jpgA fellow speaks at the Schmitt dinner

Reflecting the strong sense of responsible stewardship to God evidenced in the life of Arthur J. Schmitt, the Arthur J. Schmitt Foundation commits itself to placing its resources toward fashioning a better and more humane world. To this end, and drawing from its founder’s quest for leadership, the Foundation pledges to support endeavors that show great promise for developing personal leadership and achievement.

In its activities, deliberations and decisions, the Arthur J. Schmitt Foundation is rooted in a spirit of Christian concern, with a special, but not exclusive, commitment to the Roman Catholic tradition, in devotion to country, and in an informed awareness of present day world realities. The Foundation realizes that in so doing, it exemplifies the central commitments of Arthur J. Schmitt.

The Legacy of Arthur J. Schmitt

Arthur J. Schmitt was an industrial executive who devoted his resources to promoting his strong Christian principles and ideals. Though born into a Chicago Catholic family of moderate circumstances, he rose by his resourcefulness, inventiveness, persuasive ability, and managerial capacity to develop a prestigious international firm whose electronic expertise served his country effectively, beginning in the crucial years of World War II.

The question of leadership in the postwar world was of vital concern to Mr. Schmitt. Convinced of the resulting chaos if the world were not in the hands of good leaders, he committed his resources to building moral and just future leaders. To this end, Mr. Schmitt founded the Fournier Institute of Technology, a school for students of the highest possible mental, physical, and moral caliber. The school opened in 1943 in Lemont, Illinois.

Financial support for this ambitious enterprise came from the Arthur J. Schmitt Foundation, established by Arthur in 1941. The foundation was sustained with the royalties from patents on his electrical inventions.

By 1955, Fournier had granted 171 high school and 80 college diplomas. At that time, Schmitt and the foundation directors concluded that graduate education at the doctoral level would be necessary to achieve the foundation’s purposes. Such an education was not feasible to offer at Fournier, and so the decision was made to close the Institute. The resources of the foundation were then directed towards granting fellowships for graduate degrees at other institutions.

Today, years after the death of Mr. Schmitt, the foundation continues its commitment both to education and to the development of responsible leadership. Through the work of the foundation, Arthur J. Schmitt continues to make his mark on our world.