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Good Professors Making Good Professors

Two new endowed faculty positions have been created in honor of stalwart MSU faculty members and their significant contributions to their fields

a bunch of empty green armchairs positioned beneath beaumont tower

Good Professors Making Good Professors

Two new endowed faculty positions have been created in honor of stalwart MSU faculty members and their significant contributions to their fields

Michigan State is teeming with outstanding faculty members. The kind that decades’ worth of grateful students have stories about. The kind that are known around the university and around the world for their work. The kind that “make MSU look good.”

Recently, the contributions of two outstanding faculty members just like this—one in Turfgrass and one in Chemical Engineering—have been honored in a very special way: through the creation of two new faculty positions.

The grass is greener (on every continent!) because of Joe Vargas

For over 70 years, MSU’s turfgrass management program has provided significant, cutting-edge research that positively impacts practitioners and end-users, from backyards to world-class golf courses.

The research taking place within the turfgrass program not only serves to positively affect our campus community and the state of Michigan’s economy, but also the U.S. and the world. Greenspace and turf are valuable for communities, as these spaces provide positive ecosystem services including stormwater management, pollinator friendly habitats, urban cooling and environmental protection and preservation.

Dr. Joe Vargas has played a huge part in that. He has dedicated his 51-year career to improving the quality of turf on every continent except Antarctica. His knowledge has been shared in over 200 articles and over 1,000 presentations. As an international expert on turfgrass diseases, he is a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.

In his honor, a $1 million gift from the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation to the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources has launched a $5 million campaign to endow the Joe Vargas Chair in Turfgrass Pathology.

Established in 1957, the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation (MTF) is a non-profit organization which supports turfgrass research and education, and the organization’s members represent a vast portion of the industry—many of whom have been impacted or interacted in some way with Michigan State and the research that comes out of the turfgrass program.

“At the forefront of our turfgrass program are our faculty members who are global leaders in their areas of expertise,” says Brian Horgan, Ph.D, chairperson for the MSU Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, which houses the Turfgrass Program. “By investing in this endowed chair position, Michigan Turfgrass Foundation shows their commitment to creating new knowledge through research, while educating and inspiring the students who will become the next generation of leaders in turfgrass science.”

Chemical Engineering looks good because of Martin Hawley

Martin Hawley has been at MSU for 65 years: first as a student, then as a teacher, an administrator, and a leader. For the last 15 years, he has served as chairperson of the MSU Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.

He is a well-established industry and government consultant, whose teaching career is highlighted by the perennial success of MSU students in the annual AIChE national design competition. Dozens of MSU students have received national awards and recognitions during the past 30 years.

He has developed text materials and taught courses to students in international education programs on project engineering and management. He holds six patents and has published over 200 articles and books. And, among other awards, he has earned the “Chemical Engineer of the Year” award from the Chemical Engineering Professional Society, and both a Distinguished Faculty Award and the Claud R. Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award from MSU.

Alumnus William “Bill” J. Hargreaves (’46) has long admired Hawley’s work, and has made a $2 million cash gift to establish the Martin C. Hawley Endowed Chair in Chemical Engineering in his honor.

Hargreaves, who retired as an executive at Dow Corning Corp., says he is pleased to make a gift honoring Hawley, whom he called “the chemical engineer that people always point to at MSU.”

“Marty is big on the national scene and always makes Michigan State look good,” Hargreaves says. “This endowed chair is the appropriate place for my support. I hope it gives the College of Engineering the ability to hire outstanding faculty members now and as the years go by,” he added.

“This is an amazing act of generosity on Bill’s part,” Hawley says. “Bill turned 100 earlier this year, which is amazing in itself. I’ve known him since he was an executive at Dow Corning. He has always been very supportive of me and our department. He has also supported an endowment for graduate student research in polymers and composites through the years.”

“This gives us a chance to constantly ask ourselves what are the chemical engineering needs of the day in education and industry. Who knows what the future will hold, so the beauty of an endowed chair will be the ability to update this position without constraints,” Hawley adds.

Read on for more in-depth coverage of the Vargas Chair and the Hawley Chair.

LEARN MORE about supporting endowed faculty positions by contacting the development officer in your college or unit, or by calling (517) 884-1000.