Withrow gift creates graduate fellowship in engineering

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionPDF versionPDF version

Nov. 25, 2014Long-time supporters of the college Jack and Dottie Withrow have created a graduate fellowship in biomedical engineering.

Jack and Dottie Withrow create graduate fellowship in biomedical engineering

Michigan State University’s newest academic department has received a $500,000 gift to be used to attract some of the country’s most talented graduate students in biomedical engineering.

Jack and Dottie Withrow of Naples, Fla., who are longtime supporters of the MSU College of Engineering, have established the Withrow Endowed Graduate Fellowship in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

“We are so pleased to support the convergence of traditional engineering and the developing technologies in the college’s new department,” Jack Withrow said. “We’re especially excited to be the first to contribute to its graduate program. This feels like an opportunity to create a lasting foundation for biomedical engineering grad students now and in the future.”

The gift establishes an endowment that will provide support in perpetuity. It comes on the heels of MSU’s announcement of a $1.5 billion capital campaign – Empower Extraordinary – The Campaign for Michigan State University – which began Oct. 24.

“This is an incredible start for this academic department,” said Leo Kempel, dean of the College of Engineering. “Endowing graduate student fellowships provides the momentum that will help to ensure the future success of the department and propel it forward as an important part of the college’s future.”

Jack Withrow earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from MSU in 1954 and an MBA in 1971. He retired as executive vice president at Chrysler Corp. in 1988, and then served as president and chief operating officer at Lectron Products Inc., from 1989 to 1995. He received the MSU Distinguished Alumni Award in 1984.

Dottie Withrow earned a bachelor’s degree in speech therapy and elementary education from MSU in 1955 and a master’s degree in teaching from Oakland University. She was a special education teacher in West Bloomfield Schools for many years and published a children’s book that promotes responsible pet care and a second book that teaches children about opera.

The Withrows latest gift joins their other investments at MSU, including the college’s Withrow Endowed Teacher/Scholar/Service Award. The Withrows also are long-time supporters and donors to the College of Music.

“We are tremendously grateful to Jack and Dottie Withrow for their ongoing generosity to MSU,” said President Lou Anna K. Simon. “The impact of their contributions will be felt across the university far into the future. This latest gift will help us build and grow our work in this burgeoning area at a critical time, ensuring that we can recruit top-notch graduate students to help us expand research and learning in new directions.”

Stephen Bates, senior director of university development and alumni relations in the MSU College of Engineering said the Withrows are “practitioners of what they call ‘diversified giving’ and have supported programs all across campus.  This is a truly Spartan approach to philanthropy, and we're proud to count them among the college's most generous donors,” Bates added.

The college currently offers biomedical-focused study at the undergraduate level in biosystems engineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, materials science and engineering, and mechanical engineering. 

The Department of Biomedical Engineering is the first new academic department in the College of Engineering since the Department of Computer Science and Engineering was established in 1969. It will begin by offering master’s degree and doctoral programs. An undergraduate program could follow once the department is established.