Category Archives: Donors

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.


Because of Ron

Students who have received scholarships funded by Ron Pasquinelli.This retired civil engineer is still building—for the future.

“Seven graduated. All have jobs. Two are going right into PhD studies. One into a master’s.” Bill Roberts, associate vice president for advancement and alumni engagement, reels off the latest student progress report to Ronald J. Pasquinelli ’59.

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Walking Down the Same Halls: Lina Taskovich

Written by The Graduate School at Michigan Tech

Filling out financial aid paperwork before the first year of college can be stressful. Thankfully, a number of aid options are available to most students, including grants and scholarships. This support is made possible through the generosity and foresight of a great number of donors.

For students in graduate school, the options are much fewer. Last year, around 87 percent of master’s students at Michigan Tech were self- funded without University financial aid, mirroring nearly identical numbers seen around the country. While loans are available to help cover expenses, a helping hand is most welcome for those in advanced study.

Lina Taskovich, a 1952 Tech graduate, established the Natale and Maria Luisa Tormen Endowed Scholarship to benefit students from Ecuador or Italy, the two nations making up her heritage. Without a significant student population hailing from either Ecuador or Italy in the undergraduate ranks, financial aid staff and the Graduate School were informed by John Gierke of the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences about a graduate student who would benefit greatly from Lina’s generosity.

Teresa Munoz is pursuing an advanced degree in geological sciences, hails from Ecuador, and happens to have attended the exact same high school as Lina. “I used to work at the Public Metropolitan Enterprise of Water Supply and Sanitation of Quito (EPMAPS),” she says, “which is interested in proper management of water resources over the basins that are used for water supplies.”

Teresa was awarded the Tormen Scholarship, enabling her to focus on her research. “My topic is on the contributions of glacier meltwater to recharging groundwater systems in the headwaters of Ecuador’s Pita River Watershed,” she explains. “Most of my work uses geochemistry to quantify the contributions of melting glaciers on Cotopaxi to the river ows and groundwater supplies.”

Lina’s gift isn’t only benefiting Teresa, but is also helping contribute to the body of knowledge in geological sciences and the scientific understanding of the hydrological processes in Ecuador. “After I graduate, I will go back to my country and work for EPMAPS and contribute to their objectives for more sustainable management of water resources,” says Teresa. “I am very grateful to have received the Natale and Maria Tormen Endowed Scholarship and Lina’s generosity means so much to me.”

The two had the chance to meet last December in California, one generation of Tech researcher benefiting from another. Asked why she endowed this scholarship, Lina said it was to help others get “the same excellent education I had.” Taskovich graduated in 1952 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, the only female graduate in the discipline. She came to Tech intending to stay a year; she stayed the course and, in fact, encouraged two brothers and friends to attend, too.

Lina remains grateful that her parents encouraged her to enter science; she has named her endowed scholarship after them— Natale and Maria Luisa Tormen—and their encouragement those decades ago is making more research, more scholarship possible in 2015.

Would you like to make that kind of difference? The Graduate School’s growth has doubled in the last five years and the University’s goal is to double that again—even with the self-funding model. There are many ways to give, and your generosity continues groundbreaking research, innovative ideas, and discoveries to make a difference in the lives of all of us.


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.


Scholarships Honor Alumna, Provide Opportunity for Women in Business

Born in the small Upper Peninsula community of Wallace, few might have predicted Joyce Caylor Lyth’s success as a business pioneer. She is remembered for her commitment to mentoring others and her steadfast ethical values. Today, recipients of the Joyce Caylor Lyth Memorial Endowed Scholarship are a lot like Joyce was: first-generation female college students and Upper Peninsula natives studying accounting.

Joyce moved to Houghton in 1968 to study accounting at Michigan Tech, where she met her husband and 1973 Tech alumnus David Lyth. After graduation, David went on to earn his master’s from Western Michigan and a PhD from Michigan State, pursuing an education-centered career that focused on student success.

Joyce found her calling in accounting and entrepreneurial endeavors. She served as chief accountant at Stryker, controller of two firms, and
ran her own business.

The impact of their Michigan Tech educations inspired the Lyths to designate a large portion of their estate to their alma mater. Joyce’s diagnosis of brain cancer in 2009 provided a sense of urgency to finalize their giving plans. With David by her side, Joyce fought valiantly for five years before her battle ended in March 2014. Today, David makes scholarship gifts in her memory until the endowment is fully funded through their bequest.

Former SBE dean Gene Klippel partnered with David to create more opportunities for women at Michigan Tech through scholarship growth. The result is the Pioneering Women in Business program. It offers mentoring to women by successful SBE alumnae, along with financial support. David and the School provided initial funding for a Pioneering Women in Business Annual Scholarship. Anyone is welcome to contribute—and crowdfunding may soon become an option.

The Joyce Caylor Lyth Memorial Endowed Scholarship is the first named fund under this umbrella, included as a model for other donors who want to honor a loved one for excellence in business while supporting future businesswomen.

David returned to campus in the fall of 2015. He met with six future pioneering women in business over lunch. “It’s almost as though the scholarship recipients are our daughters. It’s like growing our own family.”

David hopes the new fund engages more donors—including alumni—and reaches more students. “I had a chance to meet one of the scholarship recipients on her graduation day. She thanked me and said, ‘It made a huge difference.’”


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.


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.