Category Archives: Gift Planning

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.


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.


Promoting Student Success with a Bequest—Waino Wahtera

Photo of Waino Wahtera
Waino Wahtera
Marquette, Michigan

Gift Designation
Waino Wahtera Center for Student Success

Type of Gift
Will Bequest

A generous bequest of approximately $875,000 from the estate of Waino Wahtera is funding the new Wahtera Center for Student Success at Michigan Tech.

Waino earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Michigan Tech in 1942. His degree contributed to a successful career at Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York, from which he retired in 1977 as senior air pollution control engineer. Waino passed away in June 2012 at the age of 93.

After discussions with Waino’s nephew, Michigan Tech decided to use his undesignated bequest to coordinate an array of initiatives to help students complete their degrees. His gift will help the University to provide additional funding to the learning centers, develop workshops and hire peer coaches, initiate an academic recovery program for suspended upper-level students, increase cooperation with academic advisors, and remodel the Office of the Dean of Students to bring staff together.

The concept behind the Wahtera Center for Student Success arose over a year ago, said Dean of Students Bonnie Gorman. “We wanted to bring the academic student support services together, so we could create better programs for our students. Then we received the bequest from the Wahtera estate, and that has enabled us to move more quickly. We are very grateful to the Wahtera family for making this possible.”

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