’56 grads donate to Engineering discretionary fund

May 17, 2023

$1.5 million gift to support engineering and business

For Claudia Prescott, Michigan State University holds a special place in her heart. It’s where she discovered her career path, built a foundation for future success, and met the love of her life, James.

James and Claudia Prescott first met along the banks of the Red Cedar and enjoyed being true Spartan fans.

“Our paths crossed at just the right time … and it was at Michigan State,” she said, explaining how they first met on a blind date after the school year began in fall 1955. “It was love at first sight, and we found we were a perfect match. MSU meant the world to Jim and I.”

After 63 years together, James (B.S. Engineering ’56) passed away in 2020. In his honor and to give back to their cherished alma mater, Claudia (B.A. General Business Administration ’56) has made a $1.5 million bequest gift to MSU.

“Claudia Prescott’s generosity in honor of her late husband is a testament to the impact MSU had on their lives and underscores a trust in us to build on MSU’s excellence,” Interim President Teresa Woodruff said. “We are deeply appreciative of this gift, which will help ensure that MSU will be as meaningful for the next generation as it was for the Prescotts.”

The gift will be given equally to the dean’s discretionary funds of MSU’s College of Engineering and Broad College of Business, where she and James earned their degrees. Such funds are critical for the success of each college, allowing deans to address evolving needs and move resources to seize opportunities that directly impact faculty and students.

“We are grateful for this generous gift, which will support the Broad College in its efforts to inspire the future of business, enabling us to create moments that matter for our students,” Judith Whipple, interim dean of the Broad College, said. “Jim and Claudia’s story is one of inspiration and unwavering love and commitment, including for their alma mater.”

College of Engineering Dean Leo Kempel added, “We are inspired by their story, grateful for their vision and committed to helping Spartan engineers achieve their dreams with their help.”

The Prescott donation will go to the dean’s discretionary funds in Business and Engineering.

After first meeting along the banks of the Red Cedar, the Prescotts cheered on the Spartans at the 1956 Rose Bowl, where James asked Claudia to marry him. They enjoyed being true Spartan fans over the years, and Claudia hopes her gift will inspire others to give back to the university.

“Hopefully our support now will not only help the present students but encourage them to give back and help other students,” she said. “We hope they realize how important it is to support Michigan State and how it helps them in their life.”

Upon graduation in 1956, the Prescotts worked at Chrysler Missile in Michigan before moving to California in 1959. James took a job with General Dynamics and worked in aerospace for 20 years, then for the City of San Diego until he retired in 1998. Claudia was a secretary-executive with the Theodore Seuss Geisel family, working with Dr. Seuss and then with Audrey Geisel for 50 years. Currently, she is the president of the Dr. Seuss Foundation.

Donors who would like more information on how to make a gift to the College of Engineering, call the Office of Development at (517) 355-8339 or email egrdevel@egr.msu.edu. The Broad College of Business Office of Development is available at (517) 353-4340.

Story written by Chelsie Stein, MSU Broad College of Business, and Patricia Mroczek, MSU College of Engineering.