Category: Scholarships

Dr. Damoder “Pati” and Soumitri Reddy: An IRA Bequest to Save Taxes

Dr. Damoder "Pati" and Soumitri Reddy
Dr. Damoder “Pati” and Soumitri Reddy

Damoder “Pati” Reddy understands better than most the value of education. It was education, made possible by his family’s sacrifices and his own hard work, that took him from a poor village in India to a successful career in California. He also credits his wife, Soumitri, for supporting him.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in India, Pati came to Michigan Tech. “My father wasn’t rich; he had to scrape and borrow for me to come here,” he says. Patti received an MS in Civil Engineering in 1962 and then a PhD from Northwestern University. He returned to Tech to teach until 1969, when he moved to the Los Angeles area to work for Agbabian Associates, a firm that designed structures to withstand earthquakes and nuclear blasts.

Pati scaled back to part-time work in 1986 to manage their investments and in 1990 retired completely. He has structured some of their retirement assets, including an IRA, to benefit Michigan Tech. He says, “An IRA is a smart way to help Tech since it’s such a highly taxed asset if given to heirs.”

He has also made Tech the sole beneficiary of a whole life insurance policy. And he has two other policies designated primarily for their heirs. Should there be a claim, however, a portion would support two endowed funds established in his and Soumitri’s name: a fellowship and a scholarship benefiting students in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

In addition, the Reddy family makes annual gifts to provide current scholarships and fellowships and to build their endowments.

“I am very fortunate to have gone to Michigan Tech; it gave me a leg up,” says Reddy. “All I have accomplished is due in part to Michigan Tech, so I feel that I have to give back as much as possible.”

Learn more about how to give with an IRA rollover.

Dan and Carol Rivard: Bargain Sale–Part Gift and Part Sale

Dan and Carol Rivard

Dan Rivard had a couple of distinguished careers at Ford Motor Company. First, he was the process quality overseer when “quality became job one.” Then, he was called out of retirement to run Ford’s international racing efforts, giving him entree to the pressure-cooker world of NASCAR, Formula 1, Indy cars, and World Cup rallies.

Today, he and his wife are helping Michigan Tech students through the Dan and Carol Rivard Product Realization Center. A gift to the Department of Mechanical Engineering–Engineering Mechanics, the lab allows students to design, model, and fabricate new products, so they can gain practical experience in all phases of engineering.

Dan credited in part legendary professor Aubrey Gibson for this inspiration and department chair Bill Predebon for the opportunity. “Gib had said that our labs had drifted from ‘hands-on’ to ‘the care and feeding of PCs,'” Rivard says. “When we dedicated the lab, Gib was there, and I asked him if the new lab would get us back to our future; he just smiled and chuckled.”

The Rivards’ decision to support an entire laboratory was executed via a gift-planning vehicle called a “bargain sale.”

“We had twenty-two acres with lakefront that had appreciated significantly, and we sold the parcel to Michigan Tech for well below its market value,” he said. The Tech Fund was able to sell the land at a substantial net gain, and the Rivards also were able to show a profit on their investment.

Their donation is helping students to shape their own futures, just as Dan’s Tech education and degree in mechanical engineering launched his extraordinary career. “I thought I was growing up to be a carpenter,” Dan says, recalling that he was the first in his family to attend college.

He has become a builder, of course, constructing a great life, both personally and professionally, while supporting Michigan Tech in appreciation for the valuable “toolbox” it gave him along the way.

Rudy and Judy Shunta: Gift of Appreciated Securities–Capital Gains Bypassed

Shunta - Gift of Appreciated Securities - Capital Gains Bypassed
Rudy and Judy Shunta

“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,” he says.

“Pass it on.”

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.

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.”

Walking Down the Same Halls: Lina Taskovich

Written by The Graduate School at Michigan Tech

Filling out financial aid paperwork before the first year of college can be stressful. Thankfully, a number of aid options are available to most students, including grants and scholarships. This support is made possible through the generosity and foresight of a great number of donors.

For students in graduate school, the options are much fewer. Last year, around 87 percent of master’s students at Michigan Tech were self- funded without University financial aid, mirroring nearly identical numbers seen around the country. While loans are available to help cover expenses, a helping hand is most welcome for those in advanced study.

Lina Taskovich, a 1952 Tech graduate, established the Natale and Maria Luisa Tormen Endowed Scholarship to benefit students from Ecuador or Italy, the two nations making up her heritage. Without a significant student population hailing from either Ecuador or Italy in the undergraduate ranks, financial aid staff and the Graduate School were informed by John Gierke of the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences about a graduate student who would benefit greatly from Lina’s generosity.