Tag: michigan tech board of control

Rick and Jo Berquist Endow a Professorship in Entrepreneurship and Innovation

“I put my money where my mouth is, and we get a great deal of satisfaction by doing this.” —Rick Berquist

Rick Berquist has been associated with four universities in his life: He studied at Michigan State, the Colorado School of Mines, and Georgia Tech; and he has been a leader at Michigan Tech for twenty years.

“I learned more at Michigan Tech than the other three universities combined,” he says now. “I work with a lot of good people making good decisions. Being associated with people of that caliber has been rewarding.” And, although he’s not a business alum, the chemical engineering major says he gained his business acumen through the school of hard knocks.

Berquist served more than ten years on the Michigan Tech Board of Control and another ten years as a trustee of the Michigan Tech Fund. “I developed a taste for Michigan Tech,” he says. “It has become very special.”

One of the things he learned at Tech was fundraising. “I learned that anytime you lead a fundraising effort, you give mightily.” He says that with both conviction and a chuckle.

That realization led Berquist and his wife, Joan (Jo), to establish an endowed professorship in the School of Business and Economics with a $1 million estate gift and to fund the position during their lifetimes with annual giving. “I put my money where my mouth is,” he says, “and we get a great deal of satisfaction by doing this.”

They support the School of Business and Economics because it’s Berquist’s belief that engineers need to be well versed in technical issues and business skills. “Engineers need to get businesses going,” Berquist avows. “They need to bring forth products and services that help the country. Also, Michigan Tech does a great job of promoting teamwork, and that’s a big part of any success—create teams that make things happen.”

“This is a major gift in our School—not simply in the amount donated, but in the impact this endowment will have on our academic programs and our research,” says Dean Darrell Radson. “This gift will help us continue our mission to integrate the experience-based learning that will develop leaders in global business and innovation.”

Berquist says he emulates his father, who was a businessman known for his persistence and his product. “He pushed forward and established something for the good of the people. That’s important. You need them as customers.” His father started a propane distribution service in Carney, Michigan, in 1945, and he grew the business into home heating and propane transportation. Rick worked for his father and learned about entrepreneurship from him.

The Berquist professorship will also help the School build a core team of faculty in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation, and business strategy. The professor will also be directly involved in teaching entrepreneurship classes and advising the Business Development Experience, where business students write and present business plans for new technologies being developed in engineering Senior Design courses and the Enterprise program. Saurav Pathak has been announced as the new Berquist professor.

This article was originally published in Impact, the Michigan Tech School of Business and Economics magazine.


School Alum Supports Michigan Tech and Philanthropy

Marty Richardson, School of Business and Economics alumna and Board of Control President
Marty Richardson, School of Business and Economics alumna and Board of Control President

Marty Richardson, chair of the Board of Control, and her husband, Jerry Richardson, have made a planned gift of $1 million to Michigan Tech’s Board of Control Endowment Fund. The endowment produces income to fund special projects as recommended by the president to the Board of Control.

Philanthropy is a cornerstone of the Michigan Tech tradition, Richardson explained. Alumni, Board members and friends who give their time and money keep Michigan Tech strong for future generations. “Once our loved ones are taken care of, we couldn’t think of a better place to invest part of our estate than Michigan Tech,” she said. “The return on this investment, when we are gone, establishes a very positive legacy of ‘creating the future’ beyond our lifetimes. What could be more fulfilling than that?”

The Board of Control Endowment Fund succeeds the Board of Control Scholarship Fund, which helped many alumni attend Michigan Tech, such as Dave House, chair of the current Generations of Discovery Campaign. The new fund was established at Marty Richardson’s suggestion.

“Marty and Jerry have shown remarkable leadership with their giving,� said Shea McGrew, vice president of advancement and president of the Michigan Tech Fund. “Marty was the initiator of the Board of Control Endowment Fund and has encouraged Board of Control members and others to contribute to it. As board chair, she sets a fine example for all Michigan Tech volunteers.”

Richardson is the retired president of Services Marketing Specialists, a consulting firm established in 1989 to provide full-service marketing and communications support to professional service firms and business-to-business organizations. She worked in marketing, communications and business management for more than 30 years, after earning a Master of Science in Business Administration degree from Michigan Tech’s School of Business and Economics in 1979.

In 2005, former Governor Jennifer Granholm appointed her to the Michigan Tech Board of Control, and the Board elected her chair in 2010. She has also served on the boards of the Greater Detroit Chapter for the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and the Corporate Economic Council of the NAWBO. Crain�s Detroit Business named her one of Detroit’s 100 most influential business women.

Her husband, Jerry Richardson, was born and raised in Birmingham and graduated from Michigan State University with a BS in Engineering, followed by an MBA in Materials and Operations Management. He worked for General Motors for 30 years, in purchasing, plant operations, strategic planning and product engineering.

Since retiring, the Richardsons are living on their trawler, Monarch.

Originally published in Tech Today.