Auto design scholarship to honor legacy of William Clay Ford Sr.

William Clay Ford became Ford Motor’s first design committee chairman when the committee was formed in 1957.

The Ford Motor Co. Fund, the automaker’s philanthropic arm, has set up a $1 million scholarship for automotive design students to honor the legacy of William Clay Ford Sr., who died Sunday at age 88.

William Clay Ford led the team that created the 1955-57 Continental Mark II -- widely considered by car collectors as a high point of post-World War II styling. William Clay Ford, Henry Ford’s last surviving grandson, worked for Ford Motor for 57 years, spending 32 as chairman the company’s design committee.

Ford Motor said today the scholarship will be awarded in $50,000 installments over 20 years -- $10,000 to five students per year. Students attending college will be eligible to apply for the William Clay Ford Scholarship for Automotive Design, a company spokeswoman said.

She said the company has not yet decided which design schools students must attend to receive the scholarship. But likely institutions include the College For Creative Studies in Detroit, Royal College of Art in London and Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif.

“Design was Mr. Ford’s passion, and his creative vision transformed vehicle design at Ford,” Jim Vella, president of the Ford Motor Co. Fund, said in a statement. “We are honoring William Clay Ford’s legacy by encouraging and supporting the next generation of innovative automotive designers through this scholarship.”

William Clay Ford became Ford Motor’s first design committee chairman when the committee was formed in 1957, a post he held until 1989. He retired from the company’s board in 2005.

You can reach Sean Gagnier at sgagnier@crain.com

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