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Preparing a Unique Breed of Medical Researchers

The Dewey Memorial Endowed Scholarship will help recruit top students to the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine professional program.

Two large dark brown Newfoundland dogs named Banks and Dawson

Preparing a Unique Breed of Medical Researchers

The Dewey Memorial Endowed Scholarship will help recruit top students to the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine professional program.

Tracy Hickman and Chad Munger are a Spartan family. They both graduated from MSU. Both sets of parents went to MSU, too, and it doesn’t stop there. Even their dogs—two Newfoundlands—have a Spartan connection: Banks is named after the banks of the Red Cedar, and Dawson’s namesake is former basketball star, Branden Dawson.

It is safe to say MSU had a profound impact on Hickman and Munger, who own Mammoth Distilling in northern Michigan.

In 2018, they established the Dewey Memorial Endowed Scholarship, named after their late Newfoundland, Dewey. The $1.3 million endowment will help recruit top students to the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine’s dual-degree program, which educates, trains and prepares tomorrow’s clinician-scientists to help address evolving scientific, social, ethical, political and humanitarian challenges that face animals and public health care.

The way Hickman and Munger see it, it was the least they could do. And naming the endowment after Dewey was a no-brainer: they believe the endowment will be just like Dewey, determined and one of a kind. Helping Michigan State’s already-strong veterinary school was the best way to give back.

Neither Hickman nor Munger went to veterinary school—Hickman majored in interior design and Munger was an English major—but giving to CVM was always going to be the area they wanted to assist.

“My wife and I have had dogs for 40 years,” Munger says, “and when they’ve needed care beyond the scope of office treatment, we always go to MSU.” That is saying something for Munger and Hickman, who live on Torch Lake in northern Michigan—and it was always worth it. “The students and faculty,” Munger says, “added years to the lives of a number of our dogs. It hasn’t been forgotten.”

Hickman and Munger are impressed with the dual-degree program, particularly with Dean Birgit Puschner, who came to MSU in 2018. Hickman and Munger are thrilled that Puschner is willing to invest time and resources into developing the vet program by integrating in-depth research into human and vet medicine.

Puschner is excited, too. Plus, she is grateful for the endowment and what it will mean for MSU. “Our dual-degree program produces clinician scientists that are in high demand today,” Puschner says. “The COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect example of how important the connection between research and scholarship is in preparing for tomorrow’s challenges, be them biomedical, agricultural, medical, surgical or environmental.”

The Dewey Memorial Scholarship will support veterinary medicine students who engage concurrently in a formal scientific training program, thus enabling them to graduate with dual DVM and Ph.D. degrees.

“Those veterinary scientists will be especially well prepared to help meet challenges facing animal and public health care,” Puschner says. “With this scholarship, we can increase support to our students, attract the best and brightest future veterinary scientists, and continue doing what Spartan veterinarians do best—making a difference in animal and human lives around the world.”

Currently, the Dewey Memorial Endowed Scholarship will support one to two students as they make it through the dual-degree program, but the hope is, as it grows, more students will feel the impact. Munger and Hickman are excited not only to make a difference in a student’s life with the scholarship, they are hopeful the scholarship will attract even more talent to MSU.

Munger says:

 

It is fantastic that MSU will be able to get the best people in those positions, whether they can afford it or not. I feel good about the individual who will earn the scholarship but also that MSU will get the best candidate, and be even better off because of it.

 

Hickman and Munger hope the endowment is only a piece of the impact they leave at MSU. They are looking for more ways to help. “For us this is just the beginning,” Munger says. “Having one or two students with a scholarship is fantastic, but we’d like to have more and find other ways to make a more lasting impact.”

That is good news for MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine. It is good news for dogs like Banks and Dawson, too.

LEARN MORE about supporting the College of Veterinary Medicine by contacting Associate Director of Development Eric Langdon at langdon4@msu.edu or by calling (517) 353-7891.

Author: Liam Boylan-Pett