Category: Donors

John and Joan Calder: Charitable Remainder Trust–A Tax-Free Sale

John and Joan Calder

Years ago, John Calder set an optimistic goal for himself. “I wanted to give Tech $1 million,” he says. “When I decided to do that, it seemed like an insurmountable mountain.” Now he is scaling the peak.

John earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1967 and an MS in Business Administration in 1976, both from Tech. Now CEO of Cincinnati Controls, he has a talent for buying struggling businesses and turning them around. So, when the time came to sell one, he was faced with paying capital gains on $300,000. “I wanted to ensure that my wife, Joan, would be taken care of if something happened to me,” he says. “At the same time, I wanted to help Michigan Tech.”

The solution was a charitable remainder unitrust, or CRUT, which allows the Calders to avoid capital gains taxes. “It will give Joan funding to live on, and when we are both gone, the principal goes to Michigan Tech,” says John. They also give through a universal life insurance policy and are longtime annual supporters.

Along with supporting other University programs, they have established the Calder Systems and Controls Laboratory in the Department of Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics, which provides hands-on training in electrical controls. John credits that kind of practical preparation for launching his career and enabling their generosity. “When I graduated from Tech,” he says, “I could walk out onto the factory floor with a screwdriver and an oscilloscope and make things work.”

Now, they are looking at expanding their philanthropy by endowing an assistant or associate professorship for $500,000. “We’d like to support new faculty members who are just starting out,” he says. With this new gift, the Calders will be underwriting research and undergraduate education at Tech, two missions John sees as intertwined. “I view research as an addition to undergraduate education,” he says. “We need both.”

*Please note: Since your unitrust benefits may be different, you may want to click here to view a color example of your benefits.

Lentz Family: Bequest Through a Living Trust

Mark and Connie Lentz’s decision to support Michigan Tech actually began with Mark’s father, Dean, Class of ’53.

“I knew I wanted to go to an engineering school,” Mark recalls, “and after looking at three Wisconsin schools, my dad asked, ‘Did you ever consider Michigan Tech?'” Although Dean never pushed his alma mater on his son, he did refer to it fondly and often. Dean and his wife, Shirley, married between Dean’s junior and senior years at Tech. While Dean finished his electrical engineering degree, they survived in the old, cold Quonset huts for married students.
Mark says that his father was passionate about giving, and often said, “Always support and give back to your family, your community, and your profession.” Giving back to Michigan Tech was a way of giving back to his profession. After Dean passed away, Shirley continued his tradition of giving to Tech. She is supporting the Class of 1953 Scholarship Fund with a bequest “in accordance with my father’s desire to give back to the University,” Mark says.

Mark, a civil engineering graduate, and his wife, Connie, have followed suit with a living trust bequest to create endowments for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Tech’s precollege outreach programs. “We worked hard for our money, and we want to make a difference,” Mark says. “Fifty percent of our estate will go to Tech because we want to support future generations of Tech students.” The decision to look at trusts also had to do with his stage in life. “I’ve been with the City of Fond du Lac for twenty-nine years,” he says, “advancing to the position of public works director. It was time I started looking into estate planning, now that I am closer to retirement.”

Mark credits the Tech Advancement staff with helping them make their decision, so they can make a difference in people’s lives.

Learn more about how you can make a gift plan.

Nuttalls: What it Means to Give

It’s the helping hand that pulls you up the most when you need it, and Grant Nuttall has never forgotten the hands that have helped him. The retired oil executive and his wife have established the Joseph A. Romig Annual Memorial Scholarship, keeping an important mentor’s name alive and helping the next generation of entrepreneurs.

When Grant Nuttall decided to leave Imperial Oil-a colossus of an energy company in his native Canada-to further his education at Michigan Tech, his family had some concern.

“They thought it was a bad move,” he explains. “My mother, my sister, they didn’t think school was for me. And I had never heard of the place before talking to my uncle. Never heard of Michigan Tech or Houghton,” he says with a laugh. “I’d heard of Lake Superior.”

An aptitude test showed that he should excel in business, and with the support of faculty, he did indeed excel. “At the end of four years, I was ranked either one or two in the entire School,” says the 1959 graduate. “And my family thought I was lying! I had to convince them that I had become a good student.”

There was help Nuttalls - What it Means to Givealong the way, with faculty not just teaching, but mentoring. “Joe Romig asked me what I wanted to do,” Grant says, remembering the long-time business professor. “He just transitioned within one question, going from being my teacher to being my mentor. It got me thinking about the future.”

Joe also proved to be prophetic near the end of Grant’s studies, saying that if he went back to Imperial, he’d be on the board some day. “And I did,” Grant says. “I became a vice president of the company. He was right. It’s quite something.”

Grant and Maureen-whose career was also with Imperial-have been paying it forward throughout their lives. Grant has been mentoring for a number of years at a local school for troubled children in Naples, Florida, and Maureen has now joined him. As they give to their local community-splitting the year between Ontario and Florida- they have also sought to make a difference in the lives of students at Michigan Tech.

“When I started giving back to Tech, it was nothing huge, but what we could do every month,” Grant explains. The Nuttalls-who are McNair Society members-decided to remember Grant’s mentor with their giving, establishing the Joseph A. Romig Annual Memorial Scholarship.

“I can tell you it’s a great feeling. When that scholarship named after Joe came out, it was very emotional. It put me on a high. It was definitely doing the right thing.”

But why give now, decades after paying your last tuition bill?

“It’s a concept of owing,” he says. “There aren’t many days that go by that I don’t think of Michigan Tech. You do owe. We all do. We owe for what helped us get there in our lives and careers. It’ll make you feel good, and you’re making a very real contribution. How can you pay back what was given to you?”

Grant and Maureen make it back to Houghton occasionally, and their relationship with the School of Business and Economics has grown stronger over the years; they have made provisions in their will to further support Tech and the School of Business and Economics.

“I was on that first SBE National Advisory Board,” Grant says. “My sister came with me for the presentation. Here I was, all these years later, and I said to her, ‘I don’t know who is going to see our mother first, you or me, but if it’s you, can you let her know I did okay?'”

John and Phyllis Seaman, Honoring a Family Legacy

John and Phyllis Seaman, Honoring a Family Legacy
John and Phyllis Seaman

When you hear A.E. Seaman, you might think of the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum. But for John Seaman, A.E. was grandpa. And honoring his late grandfather, founder of the museum, is why John (Jack) and his wife Phyllis support the museum in a big way.

Fondly known as “Prof”, A.E. was a true gentlemen with a bubbling sense of humor. “He was quite the kidder! Growing up in Houghton, my sister and I used to hang out in the museum [at the time located in Hotchkiss Hall] and help him,” Jack recalled.

Geology and Michigan Tech are traditions in the Seaman family. Both A.E. and Jack’s father, Wyllys, were Michigan Tech alumni and faculty. “My father was a student of my grandfather’s and actually got his master’s degree before my grandfather,’ Jack chuckled. A.E. Seaman chaired the Department of Geology and Mineralogy and founded the mineral museum in 1902. He served as museum curator until his death in 1937. Wyllys Seaman served as curator from 1943-1948 and many other Seaman family members went on to graduate from Michigan Tech. For Jack and Phyllis, it’s important to foster this family legacy.

Jack’s career went into a different direction. He attended Michigan Tech long enough to spur a career in tool and die making. Jack went on to work with skilled German machinists, specializing in toolmaking. His career took him to the West Coast, where he met Phyllis. Phyllis, too, enjoyed a productive career; first with Eastman Kodak and later in banking.

In the early 1970s, Jack and Phyllis made their first contribution to Michigan Tech with a gift of stock. With Phyllis’s enthusiasm, the Seamans continue to support the museum through a combination of annual and planned gifts.

Nationally and internationally recognized, the A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum is the largest public exhibit of minerals from the Great Lakes region and is the official mineral museum of Michigan. Exhibits change and improve continually, as the museum strives to educate the public about minerals and their relevance to society. And just like A.E., the museum preserves mineral heritage for future generations.

Just last year, Phyllis and Jack enhanced the museum’s footprint, providing for a garden to be enjoyed by the campus and local community. Jack calls it “Phyllis’s Garden,” paying homage to his wife’s avid green thumb. He traveled from their home in California to Houghton for the garden’s dedication ceremony.

Most recently, Jack and Phyllis worked with Karla Aho, Director of Gift Planning at Michigan Tech, to establish a charitable gift annuity and a substantial endowment to support the museum.

Jack, 96, and Phyllis, 88, have been ballroom dancing partners since they met on the dance floor over 50 years ago. Today, Jack makes time for photography, browsing on his iPad mini, and playing the organ. Phyllis enjoys working in her garden back home and is glad “her” Michigan Tech garden is in full bloom. “I’m in total agreement with our support of the museum. At this age, I enjoy watching other people do the work!” Phyllis said, smiling.

The A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum—a place where Jack once ruffled through his grandpa’s paperwork—has a solid funding base for its future, thanks to Jack and Phyllis Seaman.

Elliott Family Endowed Scholarships will Enable Business Students to Attend Michigan Tech

By Jennifer Donovan

Michigan Technological University is something of an Elliott family tradition. Dale Elliott, his older brother, two brothers-in-law, a sister-in-law as well as a niece and her husband all went to school there.

Elliott earned an MBA from Michigan Tech’s School of Business and Economics in 1979 and he has served on both the business school’s national advisory board and the President’s Advancement Council. He is also a Life Trustee of the Michigan Tech Fund.

ElliottNow he and his family have pledged $1.1 million in scholarship funding to help deserving business students—particularly first-generation college students—benefit from a Michigan Tech education.

“In today’s world, there are some very deserving young people who just need a helping hand,” he explains.

“A business person who understands technology, and a technology person who understands business is a skill set in great demand,” Elliott continued, “and Tech’s School of Business and Economics is doing an outstanding job of preparing students to benefit from that.”

Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz thanked Elliott for his gift, saying: “Dale is a perfect example of someone who used his Michigan Tech education as a springboard to success and now wants to give back, to help deserving students prepare for their own future success.”

Elliott, who was the midyear Commencement speaker last December, currently is CEO of FCM Advisory Group, a consulting business he established. Prior to that he was President of the Global Bath & Kitchen Business for American Standard Companies and Chairman, President and CEO of Snap-on Tools for many years.

At Michigan Tech’s Dec. 20, 2014 Commencement, he was awarded an honorary doctorate.

About three years ago, Elliott, his wife and daughters established the Elliott Family Annual Scholarship, which helps pay for a business school student’s education.“ We made a modest start and now we’ve decided to expand the program and make it more permanent,“ Elliott said about the new Elliott Family Endowed Scholarships. “It reflects our ongoing commitment to supporting the educational opportunities that Michigan Tech offers.”

Elliott’s wife, Judy said she is very proud of her husband’s accomplishments. “He was taught a strong work ethic early on and has applied that throughout his career. But even with hard work, to succeed, you have to start with a good education,” she said. “He is so grateful for the education he got at Michigan Tech that he wants to give others that same opportunity, someone who might not be able to afford it otherwise. We both feel really passionate about that.”

The Elliotts’ daughter, Nicole Peace, pointed out that their family has generations of history with Michigan Tech and the City of Houghton. “It is a source of tremendous pride that our father has demonstrated the significant value an advanced education can provide. By continuing his support of Tech students through this scholarship at the School of Business and Economics, more opportunities can be given to future graduates, who will learn and grow in the great setting Houghton and the Tech community has to offer.”

Jennifer Elliott, the couple’s other daughter, said “We are proud to be a part of this scholarship, which will enable first-generation college students to gain access to an advanced education at Tech and realize their potential for lifelong achievement. It is an honor to reinvest in the university community that has shaped our family for generations.”

Gene Klippel, dean of the School of Business and Economics said that the Elliotts’ gift could not come at a more opportune time. “The number of applications to the School of Business and Economics is up 23 percent from last year. A substantial portion of those applicants are Michigan residents, with the majority being from the Upper Peninsula.“

“Thanks to Dale Elliott and his family, we are now able to provide two incoming undergraduate students a renewable scholarship worth $2,500. Each year, two additional undergraduates will be selected to receive an Elliott Family Annual Scholarship.”

“The School of Business and Economics’ faculty, staff and current students greatly appreciate the generosity and support of the Elliott family,” Klippel went on to say. “They have been long- time friends and supporters of the School. So, we wish to thank the Elliott family for providing this opportunity to our future business students as they work to achieve their potential and place in the world of business.”

Alumnus Funds Mechanical Engineering Scholarships

By Mark Wilcox

William Robinson and Patricia Hall
Mechanical engineering students at Michigan Tech may benefit from a scholarship established by the late William Robinson, and his daughter, the late Patricia Hall.

New and current students studying mechanical engineering at Michigan Technological University could be eligible for a new scholarship, thanks to a $2.3 million gift from the estate of an alumnus.

William P. Robinson, ’41, established the scholarship fund to offer financial assistance to mechanical engineering majors. Initially established within the Michigan Tech Fund in 1995 but not funded until recently, the William P. Robinson Endowed Scholarship Fund has received nearly $2.3 million from the estate of Robinson’s daughter, the late Patricia Hall of Fort Collins, Colo.

Robinson, born in 1918, graduated from Michigan Tech in 1941 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He spent the majority of his career in Wisconsin’s Fox River Valley, employed by the Kimberly Clark Corporation. He was very active in the stock market and managed his own portfolio, which grew considerably.

When he died in 2013, the bulk of his estate went to his only child, daughter Patricia Hall, a long-time employee of Colorado State University. Hall died last year, and in keeping with her father’s history of generosity to his alma mater, bequeathed the bulk of his estate to the Michigan Tech Fund, which in turn funded the William P. Robinson Endowed Scholarship Fund.

Mechanical Engineering Scholarships
First through fourth year students majoring in mechanical engineering will be eligible to apply. A 2.75 grade point average is required to qualify for the scholarships, which are renewable for four years.

Robinson’s gift reflects his long history of philanthropy to Michigan Tech, which resulted in his achieving the status of President’s Society Member for previous gifts totaling between $1,000 and $10,000.

William Predebon, department chair of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, said his department certainly benefits from the endowed scholarship.

“This is a major gift to our mechanical engineering program,” Predebon said. “I am extremely grateful to ME alumnus William Robinson and his family for this substantial donation.”

Predebon says gifts of this nature are essential to higher education. “Today, due to the rising cost of higher education, scholarship funds often become what in the end makes the difference between attending and not attending college for qualified students. The Robinson Scholarship funds will make a difference in the lives of many ME students for years to come.”

Scott Diehl Gives Back to Michigan Tech Through Gifts of Stock

“I want to see Michigan Tech continue to grow and to be successful,” Diehl says. “Tech is also a major contributor to economic and cultural vitality in the Copper Country. As a proud Yooper, I want to see that continue.”

Diehl is a software engineer at Google at the company’s Madison office, where he leads and manages a team that develops tools and infrastructure. Tech helped him with his career path because he took college courses during high school. He also worked in a lab for two summers focusing on remote sensing research in the Great Lakes.

“It was a privilege to have access to those experiences before heading off to college.”

With his gift of stock, Diehl supports the computer science department, which gave him some of these experiences.

Jimmy Diehl, professor emeritus, and Suzanne Beske-Diehl, professor emerita, are Scott’s parents and were both faculty in the geological and mining engineering and sciences department. Scott also supports this department with his gift.

His gift also provides funding for Little Huskies child care center. “My mom worked hard to get Little Huskies built. It’s important for Tech to support their employees and students with children, or those who would like to have them. Let’s do our best to foster the development of the next generation.”

Diehl attended the University of Michigan and received a bachelor’s and master’s in computer science. He earned his PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in theoretical computer science.

Marty and Jerry Richardson: Supporting the Great Lakes Research Center

Marty and Jerry Richardson

Marty and Jerry Richardson give back to Michigan Tech in many ways, including supporting scholarships and through an estate planned gift.

“We think everyone who wants a higher education should be able to pursue their dream,” says Marty, who earned a master’s degree in business administration from Tech in 1979. She also served on the Michigan Tech Board of Trustees from 2005 to 2012. “We support scholarships to help students who have made progress toward their degree, but run short of money to achieve their goal.”

The Richardson’s recent planned gift to Michigan Tech supports the Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC). As Michigan natives, the Great Lakes are important to them.

“We realize first-hand how crucial it is to provide careful stewardship of this incredible resource,” she says. “Using Michigan Tech’s strengths in science, engineering, technology, and policy, we know the GLRC will play a lead role in supporting this precious resource. Through our gift—and those of others—the GLRC will help ensure the sustainable use of this irreplaceable freshwater resource.”

Supporting the Great Lakes Research Center: Alan ’73 ’79 and Linda ’79 McInally

Alan and Linda McInally help Michigan Tech by supporting the Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC).

Alan and Linda McInally

“We loved our time at Tech,” Linda says. “We both felt our education at Tech was a huge contributing factor to our professional success. Giving back is our way to help ensure Tech is going to be there for future generations of students with interests like ours.”

Linda received a bachelor’s in chemical engineering in 1979. Alan earned his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering in 1973 and his master’s in mathematics in 1979.

When the couple learned of Tech’s plans to build the GLRC, they supported the building fund. During a visit to the new center, Alan and Linda shared they were having a problem with an invasive weed, Eurasian Watermilfoil, near their summer home on the Les Cheneaux Islands in Lake Huron.

That discussion led to a collaboration with GLRC researchers and a Lake Huron watershed council to study the weed and work on solutions.

“This was a great project and opportunity to utilize the extensive resources available at Tech to help solve a ‘real world’ problem near our home,” Linda says. Researchers continue to study this area and are working to eliminate the weed.

Since moving to the West (where it is very dry), Linda says they now understand and appreciate protecting and preserving the Great Lakes.

“Giving to the GLRC makes me feel like I am helping to protect these great waters for future generations,” she says. “The GLRC is the perfect place to study, using unbiased scientific methods, the potential impact of these manmade and natural forces and offer guidance to the public, lawmakers, and the private sector as to what needs to be done to protect these beautiful waters and the land that surrounds them.”

Protect. Preserve. Advance. Great Lakes Research Center

Deploy under-ice robots. Study lake ecology and fish biology. Capture sonar images with underwater autonomous vehicles. Investigate aerosol chemistry and how warm winters impact coastal food supplies.

Inside the Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC), biologists, geologists, engineers, chemists, geospatial information science specialists, and social scientists work together with students and staff along Michigan Tech’s Innovation Shore.

Great Lakes Research Center
Great Lakes Research Center at Michigan Technological University

The four-story, 50,000-square-foot center has a boathouse for the University’s nine surface and sub-surface research vessels and environmental monitoring buoy network, a complex of research laboratories, faculty, staff and student offices, and a public area that includes conference facilities and space for K-12 education. Eight laboratories are tailored for different research topics that relate to the Great Lakes, including invasive species, fish ecology, sediments, remote sensing, and atmospheric science.

“What we learn here can be both scaled and transferred to the world, creating opportunities far beyond the Great Lakes,” says the Center’s Director Guy Meadows. “We bring scientists together for freshwater research on the shores of the Laurentian Great Lakes Basin to be a leader in aquatic science, engineering, technology, and policy.”

Meadows says one of the Center’s most important functions is to educate the scientists, engineers, technologists, policymakers, and stakeholders of tomorrow about the Great Lakes basin. The Center for Science and Environmental Outreach provides K–12 student, teacher, and community education/outreach programs.

With the Center’s outreach programs to elementary students, Meadows says they are working to create the next generation of scientists.

“We need to engage them with the concept that science can be fun before the eighth grade and hold their interest through college.” Last year the Center’s outreach programs reached more than 13,000 students, teachers, community, and family members.

To maintain the Center and the research taking place, support is needed. Meadows says fellowships support graduate and undergraduate students who are conducting research about the Great Lakes. “They are the next generation of leaders and scientists who are working across all science frontiers to solve multidisciplinary problems. We need to help recruit the best and brightest and retain them at Michigan Tech to provide educational opportunities for the next generation of Great Lakes and freshwater scientists, engineers, and policy makers.”

Beyond fellowships for students, creating an endowment for the Center’s operations would allow new research to address the challenges facing the Great Lakes. “An endowment would support leadership development, advanced capabilities, and collective efforts to make a positive and purposeful impact on the Great Lakes and the region.”

The Center’s custom fleet of research vessels launch right from campus on the Keweenaw Waterway—the open waters of Lake Superior are just a few miles away. Due to its heavy use, the Center’s main vessel, the R/V Agassiz soon will need two new engines. The vessel is used for research, education, and outreach, making two to three class trips per day, several days per week and has been doing so for the past 15 years.

Meadows says they would like to build the research vessel fleet by being the first university to operate a fully autonomous research vessel adding an 18-foot-long driverless science ship. This autonomous surface vessel (ASV) would not need a crew onboard and can operate continuously for up to five days, 24 hours a day. This would allow Tech to pioneer and perform aquatic research.“We take Great Lakes science and bring computers, autonomous vehicles, engineering, and cybersecurity together for practical use.”

Superior, the University’s high performance computing cluster, provides researchers with new computational tools to predict wind, wave, and current patterns in all five Great Lakes. Scientists also can better predict complex processes by building models of nutrients, harmful algae blooms, and transport paths of invasive species and pollutants. Computing clusters like Superior are needed to look to the future. “What will the Great Lakes be like in 50 years? What decisions do we make today to preserve this resource? The GLRC is built upon the latest technology, the most advanced research, and the best scientists and engineers. Our vision is to sustain this excellence.”

Learn how you can support the Great Lakes Research Center. Contact Director Guy Meadows,, 906-487-1106.