Skip to Main Content
Make a Difference Giving to Michigan State University

Ferris gifts honors legacy of MSU passions

Missing Image

Active members of the MSU and East Lansing communities, faculty emeriti John N. (Jake) and Maxine Ferris, recently made a $100,000 gift to assist undergraduate students in several areas of interest to them. The Drs. Ferris chose to support undergraduate education in agriculture, communication technology, debate, international experience, and athletics. 

Maxine earned her Ph.D from the College of Communication Arts and Sciences; Jake earned his from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and was a member of the Department of Agricultural Economics, now the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics. Maxine was the director of Outreach Communications and on the faculty in the Department of Agriculture and Extension Education. 
The couple used the matching funds from the Spartan Scholarship Challenge to establish two scholarships. One scholarship preferences students in the Honors College in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources; the other supports members of the MSU Debate team. “The challenge was a real plus for us to extend our donation,” Jake said. 
Maxine and Jake were both competitive debaters in their undergraduate years -- he at Purdue University and she at the College of Wooster. Their appreciation for collegiate debate experiences coalesced with their desire to assist the national championship-winning MSU Debate Team in continuing to recruit top participants. 
The couple valued their MSU assignments in England and South Korea and is delighted that both sons have benefitted from overseas study and/or international work opportunities. Consequently, a number of years ago they established an endowment to support study abroad, international travel and other global initiatives for Agri-business and CANR Communication students. A new endowment will now support students in the Information and Communication Technology (ITC) for Development Initiative, a collaboration of the Colleges of Communication Arts and Sciences, Engineering. and the Honors College that includes a specialization and study abroad program. 
The remainder of their gift to MSU was designated for the George Webster Scholarship, a fund that helps athletes to complete their MSU education and was named to honor a former Spartan Football great. The couple has held season tickets to Spartan Football throughout their 45 years together and to Spartan Men’s Basketball since the 1970s. It was important to us to find a way to give back when athletics has given us so much enjoyment.” Maxine said.
Jake and Maxine utilized the 2009 IRA rollover provision for their gift to MSU, which extended tax advantages for charitable gifts from IRA accounts. 
For more information on making a planned gift, contact the Development Officer in your college at MSU or the MSU Office of Gift Planning at (517) 884-1000.