All posts by rbarnard

Practicing Catalyst Philanthropy—Robert and Ruth Nara

photo of Bob and Ruth Nara
Robert and Ruth Nara
Bootjack, Michigan

Gift Designation
Michigan Tech Trails

Type of Gift
Cash Gifts

If Bob and Ruth Nara were to craft a mission statement, it would read, “Leave the world a better place.”

Residents of Bootjack, in Lake Linden, Michigan, the Naras practice what they call catalyst philanthropy, or gifts that inspire other gifts. One of the most famous of their projects is the Nara Nature Park in Houghton, where visitors enjoy boardwalks around the Pilgrim River, trails up through the woods, and bridges over creeks.

“After a lifetime of paying taxes, we devised a concept that we, in effect, tax the government to fund our hobbies,” Bob says. “We donated a valuable piece of real estate to the City of Houghton for parks and recreation purposes.”

Then, they helped get grants to fund skiing and hiking trails as well as a chalet on the property. They provided a cash gift to the University to expand the Tech Trails to the park, creating a fifty-mile network of trails for year-round use.

The Naras support Michigan Tech in other ways. They made a gift-in-kind that helps to document the region’s past: Bob’s grandfather was a well-known local photographer, and the family has donated many of his images to the Michigan Tech Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections. Bob and Ruth then funded scanning equipment so the archives can make its images available via the Web. They also are donating their proceeds from the sale of a book of J. W. Nara’s photos to the Tech archives.

In addition, they initiated semiannual luncheons at which Michigan Tech’s president updates local community leaders on the University’s progress and plans. If unable to line up a sponsor for the luncheon, they have paid the cost themselves.

To the Naras, paying it forward is a way of life.

“Leave a legacy that will keep on living and keep on giving,” Bob says. “How can you beat a hobby like that?”

For more information on the wide range of options to support Michigan Tech, contact the Office of Gift Planning.


David House—Leading Tech’s Strategic Initiatives

David House
David House
Saratoga, California

Gift Designation
Endowed Professorships
Other Strategic Objectives

Type of Gift
Cash Gifts/Pledge

David House made a $10-million pledge to Michigan Tech’s national campaign. With most of the contribution to come during his lifetime, including two endowed professorships established recently, it is the largest outright gift ever received by Michigan Tech.

David is the volunteer chair of the University’s national fundraising campaign. His giving will support Michigan Tech’s strategic objective of becoming a world-class public research university. He said, “Increasing complexity in every field has driven the need for more advanced degrees, and Michigan Tech must meet that need. A well executed strategic plan will attract and retain the best faculty needed to propel Michigan Tech nationally into the top quadrant and better prepare tomorrow’s students for tomorrow’s world.”

David earned a BS in Electrical Engineering at Michigan Tech in 1965 and was a longtime Intel executive. He currently is chairman of Brocade Communication Systems of San Jose, California.

For more information on the wide range of options to support Michigan Tech, contact the Office of Gift Planning.


John and Cathi Drake—Attracting Top Scholars and Researchers

John and Cathi Drake

John and Cathi Drake

Warren, Ohio
Hancock, Michigan

Gift Designation

Endowed Professorship Mechanical Engineering

Type of Gift

Bequest
Cash Gifts

John and Cathi Drake have endowed a professorship in their name within the Department of Mechanical Engineering–Engineering Mechanics. They provide for a $1 million endowment through their will; in the meantime, they support the position with annual gifts to fund research by the Drake Professor.

John earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1964 and a master’s degree in business administration in 1969. “Nobody was better prepared to understand and solve problems than Tech grads were,” he says. “We competed with engineers from around the world and beat them to a standstill.”

The couple founded Drake Manufacturing Services in Warren, Ohio, in 1972. The firm specializes in computer-controlled industrial equipment. “I had the self-confidence that was needed to survive the ups and downs of a technology-based start-up,” he says. Cathi managed the front office and helped maintain communications with employees. “She was a big help in hard times because she was seeing the problems first-hand,” he recalls.

Their management team bought the business from John and Cathi in 2007, and the ME-EM endowment was established later that year. “It was time to give back,” John says.

“We gave our two daughters strong values and the wings to fly on their own,” he says. “Fortunately for us, they are both enjoying successful careers, leaving some room in our estate plan to think of others.”

The Drakes’ stewardship for Michigan Tech is based on trust as well as loyalty. “As a donor, you need to believe it’s all worthwhile,” John says. “We are comfortable with Tech’s mission and vision. That makes it easy for us to support the school, and since Tech played such a big role in our success, it is a no-brainer to help the new generation.”

For more information on the wide range of options to support Michigan Tech, contact the Office of Gift Planning.


Marie and Michael Cleveland

Michael and Marie ClevelandAlumni Michael and Marie Cleveland have been successful in their careers and are stalwart supporters of Michigan Tech. The couple met as students at Tech and have maintained close ties with the University since graduating in 1982, Michael with a BS in Chemical Engineering, Marie with a BS in Business Administration. They live in Northbrook, Illinois, and own a house in Hancock. Their daughter Kerstin has followed their footsteps to Michigan Tech; she is currently a sophomore in chemical engineering.

Both Michael and Marie are grateful for their education and feel part of a standout crowd. Tech graduates, Michael says, are practical, make decisions quickly, know how to troubleshoot, and are able to work with and manage people. “Tech trained me extremely well,” he says. Marie adds, “Tech is simply a fabulous school.” They want to pass along the same opportunity they had to today’s youth.

Michael says that majoring in chemical engineering was “a simple decision,” allowing him to hone his love of chemistry and pursue a discipline that promised high salaries. “The two parts gave me a career.” He sees his degree as a passport to a lifelong adventure—“travel where you want to go, and enjoy what you do.”

Marie came to Tech after attending its Women in Engineering program while in high school. Raised on a farm, she thought Houghton was a big town. She was shy but content in her new environs: “I was on my own. Being independent was the most fantastic part of that whole deal.” Being a woman at Tech, she adds, wasn’t uncomfortable. “I always felt like the guys were my pals. They looked out for me. It was a wonderful time for me.”

Marie has been at FedEx for 24 years. The firm operates in over 210 countries, and she is a worldwide corporate account manager bringing more than $55 million to FedEx each year through the six customers with whom she works. “It’s the best job in the world,” she says. “Tech prepared me better than most women I’ve known by giving me an education on how to bring solutions from various resources. I’m the only female manager in our division. The whole concept of being around guys—they treat you as equal if you treat them as equal.”

Michael has been at UOP, which is headquartered in Des Plaines, Illinois, for thirty years. The firm is a unit of Honeywell International, and  Michael is the global business director, accountable for about one-fifth of UOP’s revenues in the petroleumrefining, petrochemical, and gasprocessing industries. These days, he spends much of his time in Asia, a key growing market for UOP.

Michael and Marie help the University with its fundraising initiatives; specifically, they support the School of Business and Economics, the Department of Chemical Engineering, and wherever else there are needs. They also have included a provision for a Michigan Tech endowed scholarship in their estate plans. “We’ve both been blessed,” Michael says. “We have a sound financial footing, and we want to provide a lasting influence, not only by donating money but also by giving our time. That’s an important part, too.” Accordingly, the couple hosts a networking group of  Tech alumni every other month at their home. “Michigan Tech people want to be around other Michigan Tech people,” Marie notes. (If graduates get laid off, she says, they bring their resumes to share at the gathering.) Marie also promotes Tech with recruiting efforts at local high schools and community colleges, and she’s on the committee that is planning this summer’s special alumnae gathering at the 2012 Alumni Reunion. “What a great feeling to be a part of Tech,” Marie says. “It’s amazing how many opportunities there are to give back.” She is also a member of the Presidential Council of Alumnae, and she speaks in various departments on campus.

Why are they so loyal? Michael sums up their attitude: “The Michigan Tech mission is to offer students an education at a reasonable price, and prepare them for success. It’s a great value—a successful model. Somebody supported us when we were students. Now it’s up to us to do the same. We can make a difference.”


Turning the College Dream into a Reality—Barbara and Paul Horton

photo of Barbara and Paul Horton
Barbara and Paul Horton

Calumet native Barb (Herveat) Horton has always dreamed of helping children, especially children who can’t imagine a college education in their future.

She made her dream a reality by creating Lighthouse Learners, an active program for children in the Public Schools of Calumet, Laurium, and Keweenaw. Starting in middle school, the program will give children role models, mentors, and after-school and summer activities to motivate them to pursue a higher education. These activities include spiritual and character development and service projects. Full scholarships to Michigan Tech eliminate the financial hurdle standing between Lighthouse Learners and college.

To ensure the program’s longevity, Barb established a Michigan Tech endowment and provided for its base funding through her trust. Wanting to see Lighthouse Learners in action, she and her husband, Paul, an electrical engineering graduate of Michigan Tech, are funding the program annually and invite others to help support its growth and success.

“There are a lot of children who have the ability to go to college but don’t have the opportunity,” she says. “I want to give these kids the vision that they can do it.”

Horton lived out such a vision herself. She worked her way through college and enjoyed a successful career at D&N Savings Bank, culminating as senior vice president for operations. After leaving the bank, she started a consulting firm and was then hired by one of her client companies, which was later purchased by biomedical engineering giant Medtronic.

After retiring, she created the Lighthouse Learners™ Scholarship Program with help from Paul and the University’s development team.

“You can’t help but be impressed with what Michigan Tech is doing,” she says. “I chose Tech because of its programs and long history of graduates who do great things.”

Thanks to the Hortons’ endowment, far into the future there will be more Tech graduates doing great things they never imagined.


906 Callers

Tech Line callers

Who’s on the other end of those Michigan Tech phone calls? The answer may surprise you. (Hint: it’s not just about updating records and collecting money.)

Read more about the students who will tell you about what’s happening on campus, want to learn what you’ve been up to since you graduated, and can help you help Michigan Tech.


Transforming the Student Learning Experience—William Jackson

photo of William Jackson
William Jackson
Paradise Valley, Arizona
Eagle Harbor, Michigan

Gift Designation
Endowed Professorship
University-wide

Type of Gift
Cash Gifts

The generosity of William G. Jackson has made it possible for Michigan Tech to transform the learning experience for students across campus. His recent outright gift of $1 million will fund the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning. The center will bring together a full suite of technological tools to upgrade teaching, learning, learning assessment, and student assessment of teaching.

Plans include $435,000 for classroom technologies that will allow faculty to easily bring more content into the classroom and record classes for later student review. A secure testing center for standardized tests will also be installed at a cost of $170,000. An additional $395,000 will be devoted to meeting faculty needs.

The founder and president of CableAmerica, Bill has a long-standing affinity with Michigan Tech, which is evident in the guidance, resources, and support he has extended to the University over the years. He and his late wife, Gloria, established the William and Gloria Jackson Endowed Professorship in 2007, as well as an endowed scholarship in 1999.

A native of Laurium, Michigan, Bill graduated from Michigan Tech in 1958 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He is a member of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering’s Academy and has received the Board of Trustees Silver Medal and Michigan Tech’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

For more information on the wide range of options to support Michigan Tech, contact the Office of Gift Planning.


Updating Tech’s Athletic Facilities—John and Ruanne Opie

John and Ruanne Opie
John and Ruanne Opie
Weston, Connecticut

Gift Designation
Student Ice Arena

Type of Gift
Cash Gifts/Pledge

John and Ruanne Opie have demonstrated their commitment to Michigan Tech’s facilities and academics time and time again through their generous gifts.

Most recently, the Opies made a significant contribution toward the purchase of a $615,000 video scoreboard for the John J. MacInnes Student Ice Arena. The scoreboard offers Huskies fans an enhanced viewing experience with game replays, highlights, and information displays.

“Ruanne and I are pleased to join with other alumni and supporters of the hockey program by matching their donations to the project,” said John, a member of the Michigan Tech Sports Hall of Fame. “The video scoreboard will be an important addition to the arena.”

John graduated from Michigan Tech with a bachelor’s degree in Metallurgical Engineering in 1961. He delivered Tech’s commencement address in 1987 and again in 2001, receiving Honorary Doctorates in Engineering and Business. He spent most of his career with General Electric, retiring in 2000 as vice chairman/executive director.

The Opies previously gave $1 million for the construction of 10 skybox suites in the John J. MacInnes Student Ice Arena. Along with supporting Michigan Tech’s athletic programs, they have funded a 54,000-square-foot addition to the J. R. Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library and established an endowment to support the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

For more information on the wide range of options to support Michigan Tech, contact the Office of Gift Planning.


Advancing Sustainability through Endowed Chairs—Richard and Bonnie Robbins

Photo of Richard and Bonnie Robbins
Richard and Bonnie Robbins
Seattle, Washington

Gift Designation
Endowed Chairs
Sustainability

Type of Gift
Charitable Remainder Trust
Appreciated Securities

Richard and Bonnie Robbins created the Robbins Chairs of Sustainability, which include a Chair in Sustainable Manufacturing and Design, a Chair in Sustainable Use of Materials, and a Chair in Sustainable Management of the Environment.

A total of $6 million has been committed through their charitable remainder trust that will ultimately come to Michigan Tech to fund the primary endowment for the chairs. In the interim, they are supporting the three chairs with a yearly $60,000 payment to be provided through their existing $700,000 Robbins Fund at the Michigan Tech Fund.

Richard graduated from Michigan Tech in 1956 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. In 1958, he joined the Robbins Company and assumed leadership of the firm when his father died three months later. The company’s string of records in tunnel-boring technology includes the boring of the “chunnel,” the three huge tunnels under the English Channel.

Establishing the Robbins Chairs in Sustainability was a natural fit, Richard said. “My wife and I both consider ourselves environmentalists, and we also support sustainability.”

For more information on the wide range of options to support Michigan Tech, contact the Office of Gift Planning.


Supporting Mechanical Engineering Students—Rudolph and Judy Shunta

photo of Rudolph and Judy Shunta
Rudolph and Judy Shunta
Muskegon, Michigan

Gift Designation
Endowed scholarships
for ME-EM students
Mechanical Engineering

Type of Gift
Appreciated Securities

“Normally, Judy and I prefer to keep our charitable activities, if not anonymous, certainly low key,” says Rudy Shunta. “We like to help out where we can, but the magnitude of our donations certainly doesn’t put us at the philanthropist level.” Nevertheless, the Shuntas agreed to “go public” to encourage others. “We wanted to share our belief that it is everyone’s responsibility to pass along their good fortune to those who follow them,” he says.

Rudy paid his way through Michigan Tech in a multitude of ways. His parents helped, his uncle arranged for a summer job, and he received several minor scholarships. “I also had a fellowship as well as a teaching assistantship and a counselor assignment in Wadsworth Hall,” he says.

With this help, Rudy earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1962, followed by an MS in Engineering Mechanics a year later. Those degrees contributed to a successful career at General Motors and later at Dana Corporation’s Perfect Circle Sealed Power Division, where he was vice president/general manager.

After Rudy retired, he and his wife began donating appreciated securities to fund the Rudy and Judy Shunta Endowed Scholarship, which supports undergraduate mechanical engineering students.

“I’ve always been interested in investing, and over the years, I’ve bought stock that has appreciated quite a bit,” Rudy says. “By giving it to Michigan Tech, you don’t have to pay capital gains, and the University receives the full value.

“We are hoping that those who benefit from this scholarship will someday feel the responsibility to do the same as we have done. Good fortune is only a loan. Pass it on.”

For more information on the wide range of options to support Michigan Tech, contact the Office of Gift Planning.