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Opening Hearts and Minds

Couple supports education abroad with named endowment

Durham and Farnum on their travels

Alumni Dave Durham and Ed Farnham have one regret about their MSU experiences: they never participated in education abroad. 

But, they’ve very much managed to capture the education abroad spirit in their lives since.

Their DVM degrees from the College of Veterinary Medicine led to rewarding careers as veterinarians and enabled them to become world travelers—the kind who are as likely to stay in a hut as a hotel. The couple strives to travel as ambassadors rather than tourists, with humility about themselves and an open mind about others.

They’ve seen how the approach can change people’s hearts, including their own.

So, when it came to supporting their alma mater, education abroad represented exactly how they wanted to help the next generation of Spartans. They started with support for First-Year Seminar Abroad scholarships and have made an estate gift to establish an endowment in their names for education abroad. They are working on funding the endowment with cash, making gifts each year on Give Green Day. 

“The world is becoming a smaller and smaller place,” says Ed. “And it’s really important to appreciate what we have in the United States but also to understand that people are not dissimilar wherever you go. We all boil down to wanting the same things: health and clean environments and prosperous lifestyles for ourselves and our kids.”

Dave adds: “We really value the education that we are getting now from traveling and we are thrilled to be able to help students experience that sooner than we did.”

Both Dave and Ed love to document their travel experiences through photography. In 2018, their work was selected in the International Studies and Program’s Global Focus Photo Contest: Ed for “Scarface,” a close-up of a lion taken on an African safari, and Dave for “After the Flood,” a scene from inside a Vietnam home that also functions as a restaurant and had flooded from a monsoon just two weeks prior.

Scarface taken by Ed Farnum
After the Flood
After the Flood taken by Dave Durham

LEARN MORE about supporting education abroad by contacting Interim Senior Director of Development Daniel Spadafore at or by calling (517) 884-6789.

Author: Lois Furry, '89