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Leslie Gift Provides Emergency Student Aid

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Making a difference is what philanthropy is all about and Michigan State University is fortunate to have many individuals helping to do that. However, some gifts make a truly significant and immediate impact. A recent gift from Audrey (Arts and Letters: Philosophy, ’50 and English, ’60) and John Leslie is an example. 

Shortly after Thanksgiving, the Leslies notified the College of Arts and Letters that they would be sending a year-end gift. They could have added this gift to the value of an endowment they had already established during the recent Campaign for MSU. That endowment, the Audrey and John Leslie Endowed Scholarship in Arts and Letters, is fully funded and generates approximately $4,000 each year for two students of at least junior standing with a 3.0 grade point average who have financial need. The Leslies, however, chose to do something else with their 2008 gift.

The Leslies directed that their $10,000 gift go to the College of Arts and Letters Dean’s Discretionary Account to help two to three students who otherwise might not be able to continue their education. 

“We wondered if, because some students might be having problems paying their tuition during the coming year, would it not be better to make a straight cash contribution?” noted John. “Because in many cases young people do not return to college after dropping out, we hope we can keep this from happening in at least one or two instances.”

Many MSU students and their families are feeling the pinch of the current economic crisis. At the same time, the importance of a college education has never been greater. The Leslies wanted to provide immediate help students facing tough decisions about staying in school.

“This is a wonderful gift,” commented Karin Wurst, dean of the College of Arts and Letters. “We are especially grateful for this timely gift because we know we have students who are struggling and we are trying to do as much as we can to help them. Now more than ever, this kind of needs-based philanthropy is immensely valuable. The placement of the funds in the Dean’s Discretionary account allows us to be very proactive and nimble targeting students in need.” The college immediately made the awards to three young women who were especially grateful for the surprise assistance, which came to them over the holidays. 

“The current economic turmoil has affected my family in many ways, including bankruptcy and foreclosure,” said Cierrah Danforth, a junior from Detroit, Michigan, majoring in East Asian Languages and one of the scholarship recipients. “I feel honored and lucky to have been awarded this scholarship. It’s the best ‘job well done’ I could have received for my hard work this past semester. This extra support makes all the difference.”

Being able to help students during a difficult time has been very rewarding to the Leslies. “Audrey and I only wish the check could have been larger considering the critical economic times,” John stated.

For more information about making a gift to the College of Arts and Letters Dean’s Discretionary Account, contact Director of Development Bridget Paff at (517) 353-4725.