Giving Stories Archive

Leo Kempel in a hallway

The college seeks more scholarships and endowed chairs as it hits Empower Extraordinary milestone 

The Michigan State University College of Engineering has reached its goal for the Empower Extraordinary capital campaign and continues to propel forward. "This is unprecedented support for our college and its students," said Engineering Dean Leo Kempel. "The college has surpassed its goal of $80 million more than a year early, thanks to our devoted alumni and friends. This campaign total doesn't mean we've reached an end," Kempel continued. "We still need more endowed faculty positions and we must continue to raise funds for undergraduate scholarships, but it is time for a collective cheer." 

Read more on the college's campaign success here

John Koza

Historic $12.7 million gift headed to MSU College of Engineering and BEACON Center

The Michigan State University College of Engineering has received its largest individual gift in the history of the college. 

A $10.7 million bequest from a California entrepreneur joins a previous cash gift of $2 million, bringing his total giving to $12.7 million to support the college and the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action, one of the National Science Foundation's Science and Technology Centers. The commitment is from computer scientist John R. Koza, who is considered the "father of genetic programming."

Read more on this landmark gift of $12.7 million here

The Engineering building in autumn

MSU receives $5 million commitment for engineering scholarships

A graduate of Michigan State University, whose only hope of completing his college education in the 1960s was a scholarship, is paying it forward with a $5.3 million gift to the College of Engineering. The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, will use cash and estate planning to commit $5.3 million to an endowed College of Engineering scholarship.

Read more on this $5.3 million commitment for scholarships here 

Joe ('81) and Laurie ('81) Thorp

Joe ('81) and Laurie ('81) Thorp commit $1 million toward the undergraduate experience 

Joseph M. Thorp ('81, mechanical engineering) and Laurie Thorp ('81, horticulture) firmly believe in the value of the land grant mission and its transformative impact on students and the world. They have committed to a $1 million future gift in support of undergraduate education, split between the MSU Colleges of Natural Science and Engineering. They will also provide cash gifts annually to support undergraduate students.

Read more on the Thorps gift here 

John R. Dorgan in a lab

The right chemistry to power the future 

John R. Dorgan is one of the newest endowed chair holders at Michigan State University. An expert in polymeric materials and a nationally recognized leader in developing composite materials for manufacturing, he is the first David L. and Denise M. Lamp Endowed Chair in Chemical Engineering at MSU. Dorgan came to MSU from the Colorado School of Mines, where he guided a successful effort to organize C2B2 — an industry-sponsored research center involving four institutions.

Read more on this new endowed chair here 

Ginther Grad Fellowship

Computational Mathematics, Science and Engineering (CMSE) receives its first graduate fellowship endowment

Michigan State University has announced a $500,000 graduate fellowship endowment to the Department of Computational Mathematics, Science and Engineering (CMSE)—the first in the department—from MSU alumnus Raymond Ginther and his wife. The gift will establish the Raymond P. and Marie M. Ginther Graduate Fellowship Endowment, which will provide academic and research support to recruit one or more exceptional graduate students each year.

Read more on this investment in CMSE here


Tenneco Ribboncutting

Tenneco provides nearly $300,000 in support for the CoRe Experience 

Tenneco, a global supplier of Clean Air and Ride Performance technologies, is partnering with Michigan State University College of Engineering's CoRe Experience program, designed to engage first-year engineering students in experiential learning opportunities inside and outside of the classroom. 

Read more on Tenneco's support of CoRe here


Consumers Energy sign

Consumers Energy Foundation invests $250,000 in CoRe first-year engineering experience

The Consumers Energy Foundation, a long-time supporter of the CoRe Experience first-year engineering program at Michigan State University, is contributing $250,000 to continue their support of the next generation of engineering and computer science students. The donation was announced March 15. MSU's CoRe Experience is an integrated living-learning community in the MSU College of Engineering that prepares engineering students through activities that range from academic classes, to team building, strengthening interview skills, and fun seasonal celebrations.

Read more on this gift to CoRe here 

Photo of the "Spartans Will" sign outside of the College of Engineering building (in background)

Campaign update: Engineering raises $63 million; at 79 percent of $80 million goal 

For the third consecutive year, the MSU College of Engineering has ended the year in record-breaking fashion. In 2015-16, alumni, corporate friends, and generous donors helped raise $19.3 million. That's up from $16.4 million the year before and $12.6 million in 2013-14. The college's fundraising totals contribute to MSU's Empower Extraordinary success.

Michigan State University raised $272 million in 2015-16 -- its best fundraising year in the university's history. The $272 million is a major step toward MSU's Empower Extraordinary campaign goal of $1.5 billion.

Read more about the campaign update here


$2 million estate gift will endow bridge research at MSU

Photo of the Mackinac Bridge (Michigan) in the evening.

The largest single donation ever given to Michigan State University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering will enhance research focused on the nation's strained transportation infrastructure. An anonymous couple from the Greater Lansing Area has designated $2 million of their estate to fund an endowed faculty chair with an emphasis on bridge research.

Read more about the bridge research here 

Photo of Craig Rogerson

Craig Rogerson '79 donates $1.7 million real estate gift to advance chemical engineering

MSU's ability to advance the fields of chemical engineering and materials science has been enhanced with a real estate gift appraised at $1.725 million to support the College of Engineering.

 An endowed faculty position and scholarship will be created through the gift from Craig A. Rogerson, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Chemtura. He is a 1979 chemical engineering graduate of MSU.

Read more about Rogerson's donation here 

Bosch and the Bosch Community Fund renew $200,000 for the CoRe Experience

Photo of a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Bosch Community Fund, President Lou Anna Simon and Engineering Dean Leo Kempel cutting the ribbon.

Bosch and the Bosch Community Fund have continued their support of MSU with $200,000 in grants for the university's Engineering CoRe (Cornerstone and Residential) Experience. CoRe is designed to engage first-year engineering students in experiential learning opportunities, inside and outside of the classroom. Bosch's corporate human resources department provided $70,000, while the Bosch Community Fund awarded a $130,000 grant. In addition, the Bosch Community Fund provided a $70,000 grant to support the university's STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Success program to develop high school students' foundational math skills before entering undergraduate programs.

Photo of Anil Jain

$400,000 from a grateful former student launches the Anil K. Jain Endowed Graduate Fellowship

A $400,000 cash gift will honor one of the world's foremost authorities on pattern recognition, computer vision, and biometric recognition with the creation of an endowed fund in his name at Michigan State University. The gift was announced June 1, 2015.

The Anil K. Jain Endowed Graduate Fellowship is an anonymous gift from an international businessman who was a visiting scholar in computer graphics and image processing in Jain's laboratory in the early 1980s. The fellowship fund will support doctoral-level research on pattern recognition, computer vision, and biometric recognition. The Department of Computer Science and Engineering will select the recipients of the Jain Fellowship.

Jain is a University Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at MSU, who has conducted trailblazing research in data clustering, fingerprint recognition and face recognition.

Read more on the Jain Endowed Graduate Fellowship here 

Photo of Gary Coffman

Alum's $5 million bequest to benefit MSU Engineering

A $5 million bequest commitment from a Kentucky couple will strengthen the Michigan State University College of Engineering's ability to coach, develop and educate the next generation of innovation leaders. The bequest was announced May 4, 2015.

The estate gift from Gary and Patricia Coffman is one of the largest donations ever given to MSU Engineering. It will establish the Gary A. and Patricia A. Coffman Endowed Scholarship/Fellowship, funds that will be split into an endowed scholarship/fellowship fund for talented, qualified students and a discretionary fund for the dean.

"One of the key things in the engineering field is to establish an environment for others to leverage their capabilities," he said. "As a leader, you are responsible for providing coaching and development for your employees to stretch and grow. It is my hope to impact students with this gift."

Read more on the Coffman commitment here 

Betty Shanahan and Bob Nuber's estate gift will invest in entrepreneurship and diversity

Photo of Betty Shanahan and Bob Nuber

A Chicago couple, who met in a calculus class at Michigan State University in the 1970s, have endowed a professorship to support entrepreneurship and diversity in the MSU College of Engineering. The commitment was announced Feb. 9, 2015.

The $1.3 million gift, established through their estate plan, creates the Bob Nuber and Betty Shanahan Endowed Professorship and supports Empower Extraordinary, the $1.5 billion campaign for MSU that publicly launched in October 2014.

Nuber, 1978 computer science and Honors College graduate, is managing director of digital technology for Tribune Publishing Co. Shanahan, who received her MSU degree in 1978 in electrical engineering, served as the executive director and CEO for the Society of Women Engineers for more than a decade and is regarded as one the country's key voices in support of diversity in engineering and industry.

Read more on the estate gift here 

Photo of Dr. Dennis P. Nyquist

Nyquist $1 million commitment to create professorship in electromagnetics

A retired Michigan State University professor has made a $1 million commitment to benefit the MSU College of Engineering with a professorship in electromagnetics.

The gift is being established through an estate plan from Dennis P. Nyquist of East Lansing, a former faculty member and graduate of the MSU Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. It was announced Oct. 8, 2014.

"Both the college and ECE department were instrumental in my professional growth, so I am delighted to support MSU and advance electromagnetics with this gift," Nyquist said. "As a retired faculty member, I appreciate the value and prestige that endowed positions bring by attracting and retaining top quality faculty members to the college."

Read more on Nyquist's gift here 

Photo of Dave and Denise Lamp

$2.5 million to support chemical engineering

A $2.5 million gift from Dave and Denise Lamp of Dallas is supporting STEM scholarships and research in the MSU College of Engineering Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. The gift was announced in March 2014.

The college will use $2 million to establish the David L. and Denise M. Lamp Endowed Chair in Chemical Engineering and direct the remaining $500,000 to enhance a scholarship fund previously created by the Lamp family.

"I credit a good deal of my professional and business success to my academic experience at Michigan State University," said David Lamp, who earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from MSU in 1980. "We are pleased to further the mission of the department and enhance excellence in the MSU College of Engineering."

Read more on the Lamp gift here 

Google software engineer creates legacy at MSU

Photo of Doug Zongker

Doug Zongker, a senior software engineer at Google made a $2 million commitment to benefit the Michigan State University College of Engineering in July 2014. The gift, established through an estate plan, will establish the first endowed chair of computer science at MSU.

"I wouldn't be where I am today without the tools and training that I got during my years at Michigan State University," Zongker said. "I am pleased to be in a position to be able to give back. This gift is a small way that I can help my industry and my alma mater stay in the forefront of technology advancement."

Zongker is from the Mountain View, Calif. He graduated from MSU in 1996 with a bachelor's degree in computer science.

Endowed professorships and chair positions are the highest level of faculty distinction. The support from an endowment provides a dependable, perpetual source of funding to support the position, as well as the ability to conduct research and scholarship as new opportunities arise.

Read more on Zongker here 

Photo of three people (L to R) Sarah Buchholz, Ray La Frey, Kathleen Haynes

Giving back to advance engineering in Michigan

Two MSU College of Engineering students are already reaping the benefits of the Raymond R. La Frey Scholarship Fund. Sarah Bucholz, (left) a senior from Haslett, Mich., majoring in biosystems engineering, and Kathleen Haynes, (right) a junior from Dimondale, Mich., majoring in environmental engineering, were awarded the fund's first scholarships in the fall of 2013.

La Frey, who earned a bachelor's degree in 1961 and a master's degree in 1963 in electrical engineering, was inspired to set up the scholarship fund because of his successful engineering career. It included six years as an officer in the U.S. Army and 35 years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory, where he helped develop advanced technology for the U.S. Department of Defense and the Federal Aviation Administration.

"I hope these scholarships will encourage more students to enter engineering fields, and I especially wanted them for residents of Michigan—where I was raised," La Frey explained. "I want to see Michigan regain the manufacturing leadership it had while I was a student; and bright, innovative engineers can help make that happen."

Read more on the La Frey Scholarship here 

Endowment strives to enhance research opportunities at MSU

Photo of John and Karen WordenJohn and Karen Worden have established an endowed research fund to develop know-how in key areas to attract industry attention and research connections.

John Worden used his degrees from the MSU College of Engineering for a successful career in materials engineering at two name-brand American companies. He earned two degrees in metallurgical engineering, a bachelor’s degree in 1963 and a master’s degree in 1965.

On the job, he saw the importance of research relationships between universities and businesses. Now he wants to help MSU strengthen its research role with businesses through the John and Karen Worden Endowed Research Fund.

"My interest in funding research through this endowment is to develop technology and know-how in key areas that will attract industrial attention and link-up with the research areas of MSU engineering professors," Worden explained.

Read more on the Wordens here

Koenig Endowed Chair advances engineering education through leadership of Kalyanmoy Deb

Photo of Kalyanmoy DebKalyanmoy Deb was installed as the Herman E. & Ruth J. Koenig Endowed Chair in the MSU Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering during ceremonies in August 2014.  The endowed chair was established in 2001 to recognize Koenig’s scholarly and academic leadership achievements, and his progressive contributions to furthering engineering education. 

Deb said the position gives him the opportunity to engage in research and development of efficient multi-criterion optimization and decision-making methodologies and promote their application to real-world industrial problems. "Optimization problems commonly arise in most scientific, business, and engineering problem-solving activities," he said. "I plan to take this chair professorship as an opportunity to facilitate their wide-spread use in both academia and practice through teaching, research and service."

His research interests include applied optimization, evolutionary computation, modeling and simulation, and design and control of intelligent systems. His 2001 book, Multi-Objective Optimization Using Evolutionary Algorithms, is the first-ever compilation of its kind.

Deb also holds joint appointments in two other departments within the college—computer science and engineering, and mechanical engineering—and contributes to research at the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action, an NSF Science and Technology Center headquartered at Michigan State University. 

See more on Deb and the Koenig Chair here

Empowering graduate students to solve the problems of today and tomorrow

A unique foundation that encourages graduate students to "think outside the box" and develop critical thinking skills continues to support graduate research in the College of Engineering. The II-VI Foundation Block Gift Program has funded two projects in the college for 2013-14. The foundation’s name, pronounced "two-six," refers to columns II and VI on the periodic table of elements.

For the second year the II-VI Foundation has funded the diamond electronic devices projects being carried in the lab of Jes Asmusssen, University Distinguished Professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Tim Grotjohn, professor and chair of electrical and computer engineering.

Graduate students who are working on projects include Shannon Demlow and Shreya Nad, who are creating diamond electronic devices that could someday power the world’s electrical grids. Runruo (Ted) Chen and Yunting Liu are investigating power control systems using wide bandgap devices to increase their efficiency and reliability, leading to improved transmission of electrical energy.

In addition, Fang Z. Peng, University Distinguished Professor of electrical and computer engineering, has received II-VI Foundation support for four years for research in his power electronics lab.

"Our society has so many challenges that can be addressed by a highly educated, highly motivated and creative engineering and scientific community," said Rick Purnell, executive director of the II-VI Foundation. "Our focus is on students and enhancing their research capabilities, their problem solving and critical-thinking skills, and their ability to communicate. We want to help them develop the skills sets they will need to meet these challenges."

The two MSU projects are among 21 academic research projects at 19 universities supported by the II-VI Foundation in 2013-14, and the only ones in the state of Michigan.

Industry partners help expand CoRe opportunities

Preparation for tomorrow begins on Day One in the MSU College of Engineering with the Engineering CoRe (Cornerstone and Residential) Experience, an integrated academic and co-curricular program for first-year engineering students.

We see our mission as beginning the process of building the whole engineer, and we focus on three aspects–academic, professional, and personal development," said S. Patrick Walton, director of CoRe and an associate professor of chemical engineering and materials science. "We want our students to excel in the classroom, get internships or co-op experiences, and obtain fulfilling careers–and to have a happy and balanced life while they are doing it."

CoRe allows first- and second-year engineering students the option of living in Wilson Hall, immersed in the issues and challenges addressed by engineers. There they can begin to build a cohort that will be part of their support network throughout their time at MSU.

The CoRe Experience also includes the involvement of corporate partners in courses and the residential program. These partners, which now include Robert Bosch LLC, Consumers Energy in cooperation with the Consumers Energy Foundation, and GE, play key roles helping connect students to real-world engineering problems.

This is especially true for the theme floors in the residential program where the partners have displays describing challenges in areas, such as energy and transportation, as well as the importance of innovation and creative thinking. All three partners plan to renew their support of the CoRe Experience and continually refresh the exhibits on their theme floors in Wilson Hall. The industry partners see their investment in CoRe as a benefit because they all need good, bright engineers to help fuel the growth and success of their companies.

It’s all part of the college’s effort to make sure MSU engineering students are ready to "hit the ground running" by the time they graduate with a strong set of initial skills and are prepared to be lifelong learners to keep up with the ever-increasing rate of technological change.

Michael Dennos '43 helps professor's legacy live on through Larian Scholarships

Photo of Michael DennosScholarships can leave a lasting legacy and that’s certainly the case with the Maurice G. and Sara V. Larian Scholarship. Since its inception in 1974, more than 300 students have benefited from the fund, which was one of the first scholarship funds in the college and remains one of the college’s most important scholarships even 40 years after its inception. In October 2013, 22 more students were honored with Larian scholarships.

Maurice G. Larian was a professor of chemical engineering from the 1930s to 1971. He was born in Armenia and came to the United States without financial resources. He depended on his earnings and scholarships while studying for his BS and MS degrees at Iowa State University and his PhD at the University of Minnesota. He was described as the epitome of a scholar, a cultured humble gentleman and a good, but demanding, teacher. His most memorable quality was his sincere interest in, and concern for, his students and was known as "Doc Larian" to the many students who passed through the college during his tenure of 40-plus years.

One of those students was Michael Dennos, who credited Larian as a formative influence during his undergraduate years. Dennos earned a degree in chemical engineering in 1943.

After 18 years with Schenectady Chemicals in New York, Dennos returned to Michigan and the family bakery business, Chef Pierre, which was started by his father in 1922. Dennos and his extended family built up Chef Pierre until it became the largest employer in Traverse City, Mich. Dennos became president of Chef Pierre in 1973 and chairman and CEO in 1981. Following the purchase of Chef Pierre by Sara Lee Corp., he retired in 1986 as an executive vice president of Sara Lee. Dennos died in 2012.

The Larian Scholarship continues to pay tribute to Doc Larian’s memory. Dennos was one of the major contributors to the fund throughout the years as was Sara Larian Gifford, Maurice’s wife, who died in September 2013.

Bosch highlightBosch partners with college to promote innovation and creativity

Robert Bosch LLC is partnering with Michigan State University’s College of Engineering in support of the college’s first-year program—the CoRe (Cornerstone and Residential) Experience.

With a $200,000 contribution from the Bosch Community Fund, Bosch—a leading global supplier of technology and services in the areas of automotive and industrial technology, consumer goods, and building technology—becomes a corporate sponsor in the Engineering Theme Partnership program. Bosch joins Consumers Energy/the Consumers Energy Foundation and GE Transportation as a CoRe Theme Partner. - See more here

MSU and GE collaboration trains next generation of engineers

GE is collaborating with Michigan State University’s College of Engineering to help train the next generation of engineers to address transportation-related issues for the future.

A ribbon cutting on November 1, 2011, marked the opening of the Transportation Commons in Wilson Hall.

MSU’s senior associate provost June Youatt and Brett BeGole, product general manager, GE Appliances, spoke at the ceremony. Later in the evening, BeGole presented a lecture, “Ecomagination at GE: Building Innovative Solutions to Environmental Challenges and Building a Career in Clean Technology,” to the greater MSU community. Click here to read the full article.

MSU and Consumers Energy partnership empowers students

Consumers Energy and the Consumers Energy Foundation have partnered with Michigan State University’s College of Engineering to empower the next generation of engineers to address energy-related issues.

A ribbon cutting on September 22, 2011, marked the opening of the Energy Theme Floor in Wilson Hall. MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon and John G. Russell, president and CEO of CMS Energy and Consumers Energy, spoke at the ceremony. Later in the evening, Russell presented a lecture, “Energy and Engineers,” to a group of students, faculty and staff. Click here to read the full article.

Photo of Spalding familySpalding Scholarships reflect love of MSU, family

The son of two loyal alumni, David (Dave) Spalding (’67, Engineering) grew up wearing, seeing and being Spartan green. As a testament to his parents and for all MSU has meant to his family, Dave recently funded the Charles and Mary Jane Spalding Expendable Engineering Scholarships in their honor and became a member of MSU’s Theophilus C. Abbot donor society. The scholarships he created have already helped many engineering students, a high priority for Dave. Click here to read the full article.


GE sponsors residential experience

Photo of 4 students looking at a laptop

With a $160,000 gift, GE is sponsoring the Residential Experience in the College of Engineering. As part of the partnership program, beginning in the fall 2011 semester, GE will present an engineering problem based on the theme "Cleaner Transportation for a Sustainable Future," and students will be immersed in learning about the industry.
Click here to read the full article on page 4 of the Developments publication. (.pdf)

Donor Profile: Steve Noll

Image of developments newsletter Donor Profile article

With beneficiaries ranging from the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum to the College of Engineering and the Spartan Marching Band, Steve Noll (Engineering, ’74) is an eclectic donor and good friend of Michigan State University. He is a member of MSU’s Wharton Society.

 A former national merit scholar, Steve could have attended any number of institutions of higher learning, but was swayed to MSU’s Honors College after seeing an impressive “road show” the MSU admissions team put on in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. He is proud of his MSU degree and particularly values the flexibility of the Honors College program which allowed him to broaden his education. “I still recommend it to prospective students I meet,” Steve said. Click here to read the full article. (.pdf)

Consumers Energy powers up engineering program 

Image of Developments article about Consumers Energy With a $150,000 gift made through the Consumers Energy Foundation, Consumers Energy became the first corporate partner in a new initiative designed to immerse College of Engineering students in realworld issues facing the energy industry.

In the new partnership, Consumers Energy will present an energy-related engineering problem each year to students in the Residential Experience and Cornerstone Engineering program. Student involvement could include developing ideas to solve energy industry issues, leading environmental initiatives, working on energy-related projects that emphasize an interest in technology with a low carbon footprint, job shadowing and field trips to Consumers Energy facilities. Click here to read the full article. (.pdf)

"DREAM" helping engineering students achieve goals

Rick and Nancy Brown

Rick Brown (BS Mechanical Engineering '71) recently established the DREAM Endowed Scholarship in Engineering (Dedicated to Recruiting Engineers for America and Michigan). He says that he has merely planted the seed; his intent is that the endowment will grow into a substantial scholarship as other alumni contribute, thus nurturing the project. Click here for the complete story. (.pdf - Pages 28-29 Currents, Fall 2007)

Maibach gift leads to new engineering career center Ben Maibach

Ben Maibach and his wife, Barbara, chose to get involved with helping launch a new career services center in the College of Engineering. Ben (BS Civil Engineering '69) and Barbara (BA Mathematics '68) made a generous gift that served as the catalyst in the development of the center. "You have to do things at a different level today. You can't just provide classroom education to students. You need partnership with business," said Ben. Click here for the complete story. (.pdf - Page 6 of Currents, Spring 2008)