Skip to Main Content
Make a Difference Giving to Michigan State University Make a Difference Giving to Michigan State University

Akers Legacy Serves Tens of Thousands

The new grants bring the Trust’s total giving to Michigan State University to more than $10 million.

MSU Marching Band

The Forest H. Akers Trust Fund was established in the early 1960s by former MSU Trustee Forest Akers to support students of Michigan State University. Over the years, the Trust has provided substantial support to projects with broad appeal to the university community.

Most recently, that support continued with two $1 million grants – one is for renovations to one of the busiest instructional buildings on campus; the second grant is to create a safer practice field for the Spartan Marching Band and other student activities. The new grants bring the Trust’s total giving to Michigan State University to more than $10 million.

Built in 1961, Ernst Bessey Hall is used daily by more than 30 different departments and 10,000 students. By the time they graduate, most MSU students will have had at least one class in Bessey Hall. Renovations to the Forest H. Akers Trust Floor (the third floor) will create seven ‘active learning environments’ and two ‘Rooms for Engaged and Active Learning, or REAL Rooms’ with capacity for about 560 students in any instructional period. The new learning spaces will have state-of-the-art technology and flexible furnishings designed specifically to enable lively interaction, enhance learning and increase faculty-student engagement.

Instructional space renovation is a university priority. MSU will match gifts on a 1:2 basis to priority instructional areas in order to provide MSU students with the most effective technology and equipment to facilitate learning. 

For years the 300 students enrolled in MUS 114 (Marching Band) have done most of the work to earn one credit in the College of Music course on the Demonstration Hall Field. From August to the end of football season, the band practices regardless of the weather, even when the field has been churned into muddy ruts or the uneven surface has frozen solid. These conditions impair students’ ability to move with precision while reading music and increase the risk of serious injury to feet, ankles and knees. The lead gift from the Forest Akers Trust allows MSU to build an artificial turf field to offer consistent, safe conditions year-round and replicate the well-tended stadium fields where they perform. Also, the new field will have bleachers for spectators and a tower for the Spartan Marching Band staff. A generous gift of $300,000 from Ed and Wanda Eichler, whose three grown children had been in the band, provided the balance of funding to allow this project to move forward. 

In addition, the Forest H. Akers Trust Field will be used as classroom space for kinesiology courses, will serve the broader student body engaged in intramural activities, and will be a prime site for use by the more than 20,000 young people who come to MSU each summer for athletic activities and camps. The new field will be ready for band practice for the 2014 season.

MSU will match gifts on a 1:2 basis to priority instructional areas in order to provide MSU students with the most effective technology and equipment to facilitate learning.