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Honoring A Past While Building A Future

A $3.45 million estate gift will create college’s first endowed professorship as well as a strategic fund and scholarship endowment.

honors college students

A future $3.45 million gift from a donor’s estate plan will support students, faculty and innovation in the Honors College, a premier program at Michigan State University that provides academic challenge and achievement opportunities for distinguished undergraduate students. The donor made $50,000 of the gift in cash so scholarship awards from an endowment could begin as soon as 2021.

The gift, from an anonymous donor who is an Honors College graduate, will establish the first endowed professorship in the college, a Strategic Initiatives Fund to help college leaders implement their most visionary ideas, and the Honors College Opportunity Endowed Scholarship to support students with financial need.

“As a student at MSU in the early ’70s, I had the opportunity to enter the Honors College and I certainly took advantage of the college to the extent that I could, given my financial struggles that made attendance a semester-by-semester challenge,” says the donor. “Today, the Honors College has given me another opportunity. That is to find and support students, such as I was—teetering on the brink financially and risking the loss of their dreams of a college education.

“For me, I will be rewarded twice from the Honors College: once at the beginning of my career and again at its close. My financial commitment to the Honors College is more gratitude than generosity and less munificence than privilege.”

Currently, more than 4,000 students are part of the Honors College. Students are invited to join based on their academic achievement in high school or their first year at MSU.

“We are grateful for this generous gift, which will enable us to expand MSU’s Honors College resources in ways that are critical to student success,” says MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. “The scholarship will help give some of our brightest students the financial support they need. And in the future, the Strategic Initiatives Fund will allow investment in the best ideas as needs and opportunities arise in the Honors College, while an endowed professorship will help recruit rising academic stars who will have a significant impact on academic programs.”

Honors classes taught by MSU faculty are offered through the various academic departments at MSU. Honors College students have individualized plans of study and work with faculty on research throughout the university.

“This gift is extremely important for our Honors College students now and in the future,” says Matthew Zierler, interim dean. “We have resources to enable some students with need to engage in the entire HC experience with fewer worries about needing to prioritize part-time employment.

“Importantly, the Strategic Initiatives Fund gift will allow the Honors College to continue to innovate when new opportunities arise. This flexibility recognizes that the HC is always striving to improve how we support student development. Supporting our first endowed professorship further solidifies the vital importance of undergraduate education at the HC and MSU. We are very appreciative of this gift and its ability to facilitate the great work of the Honors College students and staff.”

LEARN MORE about supporting MSU Honors College by contacting Director of Development Tonya Frisbey at or by calling (517) 884-7591.

Author: Lois Furry, '89