Category Archives: Endowed Professorships

Inventor. Investor. Donor. Legacy Creator.

dick_liz_henesRichard “Dick” Henes made transformational contributions to help create the future for students and faculty at Michigan
Technological University.

He and his wife, Elizabeth, invested their resources to help the world, something the couple did for many years. “What we are doing is small compared to what Michigan Tech can do for the world,” Henes said when donating to the University.

On January 30, 2017, Dick Henes passed away surrounded by his family. He was 89 years old. His wife, Liz, passed away June 4, 2013. The couple were married for 66 years and lived in Arizona. The couple have three children, four grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

Their legacy continues at Michigan Tech.

“Dick and Liz were simply amazing people,” says Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz. “They accomplished much in business and in their personal lives. Gail and I were honored to know them as both mentors and friends. Michigan Tech students will benefit for decades to come as Dick always remembered his U.P. and Michigan Tech roots.”

Through their generosity, Dick and Liz donated $2 million to the Department of Mechanical Engineeering-Engineering Mechanics. Department Chair Bill Predebon says their gifts through the years have been used to attract and retain outstanding faculty with endowed professorships, to recruit top students with endowed scholarships, and to support faculty and student professional development.

Most recently, he says some of the funds were used to recruit an international recognized leader in wave energy conversion and to provide him with a Henes endowed professorship at Michigan Tech.

Predebon says he and his family visited the Heneses many times. “Over time Dick became for me more than a supporter, he had become a very dear friend and advisor. It is hard to find a more generous donor and long-time supporter of ME-EM and Michigan Tech.”

The couple also supported Michigan Tech with a $2 million gift to establish the Elizabeth and Richard Henes Center for Quantum Phenomena.

Jacek Borysow is physics professor at Michigan Tech and director of the Center, which provides an interdisciplinary opportunity for scientists to foster new research ideas in quantum science from particle astrophysics to material science.

Borysow recalls his visit with the Heneses 11 years ago to talk about the connection between quantum physics and medicine. The discussion led to the creation of the Center and improved research facilities that allows faculty to compete for new research grants. Borysow says he is pursuing a patent to use a small laser chip to monitor blood sugar levels by breath analysis. This would be used for people who suffer from diabetes.

“None of these experiments would have seen daylight without the Heneses,” Borysow says. “Their gift changed our physics laboratories and made things start to happen. This will always be remembered.”

The Heneses generosity also included $1 million to endow the Richard and Elizabeth Henes Professorship in Mathematical Sciences. The couple established the Henes Endowed Scholarship for students in mechanical, computer, electrical, and chemical engineering; and the Henes Chair in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

When the couple created the professorship in Mathematical Sciences, Dick said he credited Michigan Tech with stimulating his interest in mechanical engineering and his determination to excel at whatever he did. He continued that interest in mathematics as well and said he and his wife were committed to helping the University hire and keep top-notch faculty and prepare the next generation to compete in a demanding technological world.

Heneses giving to Michigan Tech started with a $2 gift to the Michigan Tech Annual Fund in December 1956, says Eric Halonen, assistant vice president of advancement, who first met with Dick and Liz in 2000.

“Dick had strong passions in many different areas and those led him to make a significant difference,” he said. “While Dick and Liz’s leadership was quiet and modest, their support to the University was strategic and transformational.”

Henes graduated from Michigan Tech in 1948 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, followed by a law degree from the University of Michigan. He worked as an engineer and lawyer, moving to Arizona in 1958.

He founded the Henes Manufacturing Company, Henes Products, and Henes Stamping and became a successful real estate investor in Phoenix, Arizona.

Henes’ companies made electronic instruments, semiconductor parts, aircraft components, exercise equipment, a gas generator, and a cover for pickup truck beds.

In 2015, Dick Henes received the Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction. He also received the Michigan Tech Alumni Association’s highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award. He and Elizabeth also were members of Michigan Tech’s Douglass Houghton Society for their lifetime giving and the McNair Society for estate gift commitments. Dick was a member of the ME-EM Academy, the Michigan Tech Fund’s Campaign Committee, and Michigan Tech’s Generations of Discovery Campaign Committee.


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

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.

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

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.