Category: Donors

Your Family Letter

Writing a letter to your family is an excellent way to provide key information to your family after your passing while sharing with them a personal message of love and wisdom. Learn how to create your family letter as part of the estate planning process.

Please visit our website at for free estate planning tools.  

Email to request our new brochure, Your Guide to Effective Giving After Tax Reform.

Did you know you can make a gift to Michigan Tech and receive fixed income for life?

A charitable gift annuity is a giving vehicle that allows you to enjoy tax benefits and an income stream in exchange for your gift of cash or appreciated assets. Learn more about life income gifts or use our gift planning calculator.

Please visit our website at for free estate planning tools. 

Email to request our new brochure, Your Guide to Effective Giving After Tax Reform.

Health and Wealth: 10 Mistakes to Avoid

Street signs for Health and WealthStart with a plan for your health and wealth by exploring this roadmap provided by Northern Trust and their partner, Pinnacle Health.*

With many tips on how to make good decisions when it comes to your health and wealth, experts also believe it’s important to point out common and avoidable health care and financial wealth mistakes.

Health Care Missteps
 1. Not having a plan – not preparing for age-related health issues
 2. Not knowing your or your family’s health history
 3. Not having swift access to key medical records
 4. Being passive or withholding questions during doctor visits
 5. Ignoring lifestyle factors proven to affect health, vitality and longevity (e.g., smoking,
     weight, exercise)
 6. Ignoring symptoms, therefore preventing early detection
 7. Allowing a busy professional life to prevent you from vital screenings (e.g., mammograms,
 8. Getting only one opinion in the case of a serious diagnosis
 9. Traveling without medical preparation
10. Being unaware of rapidly changing medical advances

Financial Missteps
 1. Not having a financial plan until a crisis happens
 2. Not having (monitoring) a good credit history
 3. Not having a sufficient cash reserve
 4. Letting someone else “take care of the finances” without your review or awareness
 5. Inadequate, or inappropriate, health, life, disability, property and casualty insurance
 6. Living beyond your means
 7. Chasing the “hottest” investments
 8. Improper beneficiary designations on retirement plans and life insurance
 9. Not updating estate documents as life events occur
10. Not reviewing your income taxes annually

For more information on providing for your family and planning for your future, please visit our website at for free tools. 

Northern Trust manages the Michigan Tech Fund endowment and other investments and offers this information as an educational service. This article used with permission from Northern Trust.

Gifts of Appreciated Securities

For years, you have carefully invested and watched your savings grow. What took a lifetime to build can be instantly lost through capital gains tax when you sell. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Rather than sell your stock, consider giving some of it to the Michigan Tech Fund. You won’t pay any taxes and you receive an income tax deduction for your gift.

Benefits to you:

AVOID capital gains taxes on the sale of your appreciated assets.

RECEIVE an income tax deduction for the full amount of your gift.

GIVE more this year without impacting your cash flow.

CAPTURE the value of your stock and end the worrying about market ups and downs.

PUT your gift to work right away for the Michigan Tech programs you care about most.

Gifting appreciated securities in place of cash may be a smart philanthropic and tax-wise alternative. You can learn more about giving stock to Michigan Tech

Bill Jackson ’58, Provided Lasting Impact to Michigan Tech

jackson-william-personnelMichigan Tech is mourning William “Bill” G. Jackson, who passed away peacefully on March 1 in Scottsdale Arizona. Jackson graduated from Michigan Tech in 1958 with a BS in Electrical Engineering. His generosity is a perfect example of the impact a single individual can have. Jackson made multiple transformational gifts that continue to make a lasting and dramatic positive impact on campus.

Jackson’s first gift to Tech was made in July of 1973. He and his wife, Gloria, continued supporting the University with numerous gifts over the years. These gifts supported departments and initiatives including the Annual Fund, the Class of ’58 Endowed Scholarship, the Industrial Archeology Program, and the Rozsa Center. The couple made their first major gift when they established the William and Gloria Jackson Endowed Scholarship in 1998. This provided scholarships for undergraduate students majoring in electrical engineering, with preference given to graduates of Calumet High School, which provided Jackson, who remembers his roots, with a start in life that he continued to value.

In 2006 Jackson was presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award, the Alumni Board of Director’s highest honor, for his professional achievements, for being a model of the entrepreneurial spirit, for being a champion of higher education, and for bringing distinction to Michigan Technological University.

And still Jackson continued giving. Another major gift, given with his late wife Gloria in 2007, established the William and Gloria Jackson Professorship Endowed Fund which focused on bridging information technology and entrepreneurship. The gift arose from Gloria’s strong belief in the power of endowments and Bill’s strong respect and appreciation of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The generous gift both established and provided recruiting funds for the endowed professorship now held by Dr. Timothy Havens, associate professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science and director of the Data Sciences graduate program and ICC Center for Data Sciences.

Dr. Havens says the William and Gloria Jackson position invaluable. “It provides funds for the Jackson Fellowship that I use to recruit exceptional graduate students. These students are able to work on higher risk/higher reward research, which is beneficial for both the student and also myself. Brian Flanagan, an accelerated master’s student, is the Jackson Fellow and is investigating how advanced data science can be used to predict maintenance in large fleets of vehicles.” This project has allowed Havens to build a new collaboration with Ford.

But Jackson wasn’t done yet. Another major gift, in spring 2013, made dramatic changes almost immediately and continues to support students and instructors. The William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning, on the Van Pelt and Opie Library’s second floor, was constructed. It includes spaces and equipment for faculty training on new teaching methods and technologies including assessment, recorded lectures, and the Canvas learning management system. Though novelties at the time, all now enjoy widespread, effective use in Michigan Tech classes, and more than half of Michigan Tech instructors connect with the Jackson CTL annually for training and support.

In 2013, Jackson’s gift established a secure testing center that allowed local administration of the fundamentals of engineering and other commercial exams as well as support for accommodated exams. Demand for the use of this center has grown exponentially resulting in a summer 2016 expansion (also supported by the gift). In its first fall semester, about 70 exams were administered; today, it’s not uncommon for the center to give that number in a single day, with semester totals approaching 3,000.

Jackson’s gift helped to install lecture capture capabilities in 20 university classrooms, another trend that has continued to grow. (There are now 38.) During fall 2017, more than 5,000 hours of video was reviewed by students, with captures in over 100 different sections. The Jackson gift has provided much needed technology upgrades in several university classrooms, and fully supported the creation of the 60-seat Jackson Active Learning Center in the basement of Rekhi Hall which is tailored to the blended learning classroom model.

Jackson believed the most important impact were the opportunities his gifts created for people. In addition to providing initial full support of the testing center coordinator position, the gift has funded more than 20 blended learning and online curriculum development grants for instructors in almost all Michigan Tech departments. His gift provided the basis for an equipment loan program, and the impetus to begin a program that helps instructors learn how to teach online.

When Jackson visited campus in July 2014 to celebrate the opening of the Center that bore his name, Director Mike Meyer was especially struck by Bill’s humility, his desire to make a lasting difference, and his people focus.

“Bill brought two of his grandchildren along to the open house event,” Meyer says. “It was clear that his family was of paramount importance to him, and he wanted the kids to see the Center and understand his legacy. After a tour of both the CTL and the Testing Center his gift had created and a chance to visit with many of the instructors supported through grants, I tried to thank Jackson formally for his gift. Bill’s humble response? ‘It’s just great to have good people to put the money to work.’”

Bill and his family can rest assured Michigan Tech will continue to treasure his legacy. His transformational gifts will help students and instructors at Michigan Tech for many years to come.

Making an Impact. Creating the Future. Ron ’77 ’80 and Linda Staley

Ron and Linda Staley with their North American T-6 Advanced Trainer.
Ron and Linda Staley with their North American T-6 Advanced Trainer.

Helping to attract and develop the best educators for engineering management at Michigan Technological University is one of the reasons Ron and Linda Staley have made a recent gift to the School of Business and Economics.

The couple created the Staley Endowed Faculty Fellow for the continued growth of the new Bachelor of Science in Engineering Management degree.

“A single scholarship can make a major difference to a single student, allowing the financial means to achieve their college education,” Staley says. “However, that great professor who really helps you learn, who inspires you, whose knowledge sharing can turn into something special and be a path for your future career, that professor is the game changer to potentially hundreds of students. Linda and I appreciate those who make their career in educating our future leaders and want to help support those individuals at MTU.”

Staley says when classmate and Professor Dana Johnson and Dean Johnson, dean of the School of Business and Economics, shared their vision for the new degree program, he saw great potential for students.

To Staley, it is exactly the path Michigan Tech helped him create when he earned an associate’s degree in civil engineering technology in 1977 and a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1980.

“A degree in engineering management can be used in so many engineering fields that I wanted to support the program,” Staley says. “It’s that combination of technical knowledge and business acumen that I believe is so important to all engineers.”

Working on engines, old cars, and motorcycles led Staley to a career in engineering. He has worked for more than 30 years with The Christman Company where he specializes in historic preservation for monumental buildings. He serves as the Senior Vice President, Regional Manager for Southeast Michigan, and Executive Director of Historic Preservation.

Staley has worked on state capitols in Michigan, Maryland, and Virginia, President Lincoln’s Cottage in Washington DC, the US Capitol Building, projects in Morocco, Poland, and most recently, to Cuba to work on Ernest Hemingway’s historic Finca Vigia. Other memorable work includes Henry Ford’s Fair Lane estate and multiple projects for the National Park Service in Calumet.

His time at Tech taught him to work hard and that helped define his life. “I had these great technical skills that allowed me to open doors for unique opportunities. But it was the business background that developed those opportunities into a career.”

Giving back to his alma mater that shaped his education and career is important to the couple.

“I’m not ready to retire anytime soon, but Linda and I talked extensively and while we’ve always planned that Michigan Tech would be in our estate planning, it was this new degree program that helped us really say ‘we can make a difference.’”

Dr. Dean Johnson, Dean of the School of Business and Economics, says gifts like the Staley’s are transformational for students and faculty.

“The School has been blessed through Ron and Linda’s contributions of their time and student scholarships,” Johnson says. “Today the Ron and Linda Staley Endowed Faculty Fellow position propel the School of Business and Economics forward in delivering the premier technology-infused experiential business education in the Midwest.”

Staley said he and Linda hope their endowment donation helps Michigan Tech’s engineering management program grow.

“Everyone has the opportunity to help the next generation coming through the great portals of MTU,” Staley says. “We are happy to be in a position which allows us to make this commitment.”

When Staley made his first gift to Michigan Tech in 1983, he sent his support to the School of Business and Economics, said Eric Halonen, Assistant Vice President for Advancement. “With that first gift, Staley showed he was supportive and appreciative of his Tech education,” he said. “Since then he has continued to grow and establish his giving, most recently with his and Linda’s generous estate planning gift.”

The Staley’s also support the School of Business and Economics with the establishment of a new engineering management scholarship for incoming students. This endowed scholarship will recognize an outstanding first-year student in the engineering management major.

Outside of the office, Staley enjoys adventure. He is a pilot and owns three airplanes: a WWII-era North American T-6 Advanced Trainer, a 1981 Russian Aero L-39 jet, and a Cessna 414. The couple enjoys traveling across the globe including trips to Thailand, Greece, Italy, Europe, and Mexico.

He and Linda live in Brighton, Michigan and have two married children and two grandchildren.  In 2017, Staley was inducted into the School’s Academy of Business and joined the Engineering and Supply Chain Management Industry Advisory Board.

Supporter. Donor. Michigan Tech Huskies Fan.

IMG_5414Jim Sarazin has donated every year for almost 40 years to Michigan Technological University and the last 20 of those years have been a member of the President Club.

He’s been a fitness member at the Student Development Center since the doors opened in 1979.

And, for nearly 40 years he and his wife Linda have been season ticket holders to Michigan Tech hockey games and are “avid Tech hockey fans.”

Supporting Michigan Tech in many ways is a part of Sarazin’s life.

His eyes were opened to giving and making an impact during a conversation with Professor Bert Whitten who was Sarazin’s biology teacher and advisor at Michigan Tech.

“He was starting a medical alumni scholarship and he asked me to donate,” Sarazin says.

And, so began his giving to Michigan Tech. And, he has consistently supported the University especially the medical alumni scholarship, the Huskies Club, and the Rozsa Center.

“A moderate amount of giving over time makes a difference,” he says. “I feel good about supporting Michigan Tech, and I believe in it. It’s been a large part of our lives. Michigan Tech means everything to the community. Tech is all around us. It got me where I am.”

Sarazin is the fourth generation from the Keweenaw. His great-grandfather traversed Canada to settle in the Bootjack area in the 1800s. There the Sarazin family built what is now the Dreamland Restaurant and Bar where two of Sarazin’s siblings operate it today.

He says the Keweenaw and Michigan Tech are entwined in his life. “My family is here. My life is here. My work is here. Michigan Tech is here. It’s just a part of me.”

Sarazin is a dentist in Hancock and has served the community for almost 42 years. He is married to his wife Linda of 45 years. Their son, Tyler ’07, is a dentist and is working with his dad at their practice, Sarazin Dental in downtown Hancock. And, son Ryan is a history teacher and hockey coach in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. The couple enjoy spending time with their three grandchildren.

Sarazin credits Michigan Tech with helping him become a dentist. The couple both graduated from Lake Linden High School. After graduation, Sarazin enrolled in pre-medicine at Michigan Tech, taking the pre-med/pre-dental curriculum with an emphasis on the chemistry and biology courses, before attending the University of Michigan to complete dental school.

“It was a no-brainer to come to Michigan Tech,” says Sarazin. “I have a deep appreciation for the start of my education at Tech. Education is so important.”

After completing dental school, the Sarazins returned to the Keweenaw where he opened his practice in Hancock.

And, Sarazin traded in his University of Michigan apparel for Michigan Tech clothing. He says they continue to meet Michigan Tech graduates at chance encounters across the country from Hawaii to Florida.

“You’re always two to three people away from a Michigan Tech alum,” says. “Tech is deeper and reaches out farther than you know. It’s a respected institution.”

Giving back. Supporting the community. Making a difference.

Gray07222013004Dick and Stasi Gray do that every day.

The couple, who both graduated from Michigan Tech in 1982, like to help Michigan Tech students by supporting scholarships and student activities and organizations.

“We like to give back,” Dick says. “We are investing in the future.”

Dick, who has a bachelor’s in geological engineering, spent 23 years in the oil and gas industry; 16 of those with Amoco, living and working throughout the western United States and later as the president of a privately held oil and gas company called Presco Western LLC.

When Dick and Stasi were starting out and raising their three children, they remember receiving calls about giving back to Michigan Tech. “At the very beginning when they called us, we’d give $25 or $50,” Dick says.

After returning to Houghton, Michigan in 2005 to open the Keweenaw Brewing Company, also known as the KBC, they began to employ college students at the brewery taproom, many whom attended Michigan Tech.

The couple credits the success of the taproom to support from Michigan Tech students, staff, faculty, alumni, and friends.

“The KBC has become more than just a brew pub. It’s a community gathering place,” Stasi says. “It’s like a coffee shop that serves beer. We are entwined with Michigan Tech. Our business is entwined. We wouldn’t be here if not for our educations at Tech.”

That connection led them to give to students through the Dr. William J. Gregg Endowed Scholarship and the Bill Rose Geoscience Student Travel Endowment, in addition to Blue Key, Pep Band, and other student organizations.

“It’s a nice way to provide support and we want the money to get to the students for scholarships,” Dick says. “We want to benefit the students. We don’t need a building, a park, a wing, but we do like helping the students.”

For Stasi, returning to Houghton and supporting Michigan Tech has become a family legacy. Her father, brother, and sister-in-law are alumni as are the couples’ children Ryan ’07 and Dana ’07.

“My dad always talked about this place with such fondness,” Stasi says. “There is something about this place that we fell in love with. It’s a family thing for us.”

Besides the brew pub, the Grays own and operate a 25,000-square-foot wholesale brewery located in South Range, Michigan. KBC beers are sold across Michigan, northern Wisconsin, and eastern Minnesota.

Dick and Stasi say they want to support Michigan Tech and encourage others to do the same.

“You have to have the sense that you can make a difference in the future of someone,” Dick says. “You care about the university for what it’s done for you and you want it to succeed in the future and you want students to reap the benefits that you did.”

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.

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.