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$2 Million Gift to Boost Bridge Research at MSU

“This generous gift will deepen our capabilities in developing the infrastructure needed for the transportation of today and tomorrow.” - MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon.

Photo of Mackinac Bridge in Northern Michigan

The largest single donation ever given to Michigan State University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering will enhance research focused on the nation’s strained transportation infrastructure.

A couple from the Greater Lansing Area has designated a $2 million bequest commitment from their estate to fund an endowed faculty chair with an emphasis on bridge research.

The donors, who wish to remain anonymous, both earned two degrees from MSU. The husband, a retired engineer, spent much of his career working in all aspects of Michigan bridges, from construction to inspection, and rehabilitation to replacement.

“I have had a long passion and interest in bridges,” he said. “As a child, I was particularly interested in watching the bridge construction when the freeway system was being built in Detroit. As an engineer, I later examined the damage to those bridges, especially from high-load impacts.”

He said there is an important need for the country to address the issue of infrastructure, especially the transportation infrastructure.

“A trip of any length will take you over a bridge that is functionally deficient or even obsolete today,” he said. “It seems like the effort to repair them is coming up short. Our hopes are to advance design, materials, construction, maintenance, restoration and financial strategies.”

“The advanced mobility systems being designed today at Michigan State and elsewhere will require upgraded roads and bridges,” MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon added. “This generous gift will deepen our capabilities in developing the infrastructure needed for the transportation of today and tomorrow.”

Leo Kempel, dean of the College of Engineering, said the donation will ultimately add another endowed faculty chair to the college.

“Endowed chairs attract outstanding faculty members and provide a means to recognize research accomplishments,” he said. “We are grateful for this gift that also will attract talented students who share the donor’s passion on bridges. I can’t think of a better legacy.”

To learn more about making a gift to the College of Engineering, contact Senior Director of Development Stephen Bates at or call (517) 355-8339.