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Make a Difference Giving to Michigan State University Make a Difference Giving to Michigan State University

Building our community, unlocking our imagination

MSU Federal Credit Union supports jazz music, performing and visual arts at MSU with $3 million in gifts.

The arts are at the core of what makes MSU a vibrant and dynamic place to live and learn. And the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union has always been a partner in helping to unleash the massive cultural resources of the university to the greater community. MSUFCU’s commitment is evidenced by the recent announcement of three $1 million grants to endow programs in the College of Music, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum and Wharton Center for Performing Arts, all designed to enrich the lives of those who visit and experience MSU.

Spartans Did.

In 1937, during the decade of the Great Depression, a group of Michigan State faculty and staff founded a credit union, which was housed in a single drawer in the university’s administration building. Just 76 years later, that small enterprise has grown to more than 174,000 members and is the largest university-based credit union in the world with assets exceeding $2.4 billion.

Through the years, MSU and MSUFCU have experienced tremendous growth while maintaining a clear focus on their institutional missions and values. Today, the university and MSUFCU share an unrivalled public-private partnership forged through mutual support and an overlapping commitment to serving MSU students, faculty and staff and the greater Lansing area. The $3 million in gifts from MSUFCU to MSU programs in the arts are the latest example and bring the cumulative support for MSU from the MSUFCU to more than $10 million.

Jazz It Up. 

In May of 2012, renowned Grammy Award®-winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis visited the College of Music as part of the MSUFCU Showcase Series. His visit, along with those from other high-profile jazz professionals inspired the credit union to create the MSUFCU Jazz Artist in Residence Endowment.

“This million-dollar financial gift from MSUFCU is a true game changer,” says Rodney Whitaker, director of jazz studies. “It elevates our discipline to a higher level educationally, creatively and musically and it provides our students and the community access to world-class cultural experiences.”

National and international jazz artists will visit campus for a week to teach College of Music students and give public performances. They will also work with local high school and middle school jazz students. The college’s premier student jazz ensemble will tour with the visiting artists to entertain and share the magic of great jazz around the state. The College of Music hopes to reach 50,000 people each year through performances and social media, while also recruiting promising high school students to MSU jazz studies.

“This generous gift from MSUFCU will further strengthen one of America’s great jazz programs and provide unforgettable musical and educational experiences for our students and for thousands of people across Michigan,” says James Forger, dean of the MSU College of Music.

MSUFCU President and CEO Patrick McPharlin says, “Integrating arts and culture along with economic development helps to create an enriched community.” His words hold true for all three of the programs established through support of the credit union.

Artist Studio.

A distinctly different artist-in-residence opportunity made possible by the second MSUFCU $1 million endowment gives a boost to fine art programs throughout the community. The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum will host prominent artists who will engage with university students and faculty, visit Lansing area schools, lead art-making activities and community events, and present exhibits and lectures.

“We are so grateful for the ongoing generosity of MSUFCU to Michigan State University,” says MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “Each gift in support of cultural enhancement and opportunities for people to interact directly with leaders in the creative and performing arts will have a lasting effect on campus and in our community and our state.”

The MSUFCU Artist Studio Series, as an ongoing endowed program, gives budding artists and art lovers the chance to experience a variety of art forms and techniques, learning from the best in the industry.

Broadway Melody.

The Wharton Center for Performing Arts will use the third $1 million gift to endow the MSU Federal Credit Union Broadway at Wharton Center Series, which attracts the best of touring Broadway shows to mid-Michigan’s foremost theatrical venue and helps fund the center’s educational initiatives.

“Giving back to our local community is one way MSUFCU fulfills our mission of helping our members achieve their dreams and the ‘people helping people’ philosophy on which credit unions were founded,” says McPharlin.

MSUFCU created the endowment because it understands the economic and cultural contributions of Broadway performances to the community, McPharlin explains. For example, up to 40 percent of patrons attending shows come from outside the tri-county area.

“This new $1 million gift will be the core of Wharton Center’s programming and the economic engine for the center,” says Mike Brand, executive director of Wharton. “The Broadway series will generate revenue to support other programming and address capital improvements on an annual basis.”

 “We’re very grateful to MSUFCU and its members for again stepping up to support an important component of campus cultural programming,” says Simon. “The Broadway series is something enjoyed not just by many members of the MSU community, but by many people who sometimes travel long distances to attend performances.”

The gift complements a previous $2.25 million gift made by MSUFCU in 2008, which created the MSU Federal Credit Union Institute for Arts and Creativity at Wharton Center. Today, the institute annually reaches more than 30,000 learners with enrichment opportunities to engage with the arts and with touring artists, furthering Wharton Center as a statewide resource for arts education.

“We are happy to support programs that help ensure mid-Michigan is a place alive with vibrant arts and entertainment where people are proud to live, work and visit,” says McPharlin about the MSUFCU’s unparalleled series of commitments to promote strong and interactive cultural opportunities, all centered on the MSU campus.

Each separate endowment will be managed by MSU’s Office of Investments and Financial Management. Different from other gifts, the total amount of an endowment is invested and a portion of the income is spent each year while the remainder is reinvested to grow the fund and safeguard against inflation. Historically, MSU’s long-term investment returns have exceeded the performance of peer universities that have endowments similar in size to MSU’s, says Bob Groves, vice president for University Advancement. When fully funded, each of the three MSU Federal Credit Union $1 million endowments is expected to generate $50,000 annually to support their respective programs.