Philanthropists of the Year 2022

Karen and Gerald Kolschowsky

The Philanthropist Award is given every fall at the MSU Alumni Grand Awards Gala in recognition of those who have demonstrated outstanding philanthropic responsibility toward MSU, and whose generosity inspires others.

The 2022 Philanthropist Award was presented to Gerald and Karen Kolschowsky for their steadfast commitment to transform lives and development work in Africa. 

Karen Kolschowsky is a 1963 graduate of the College of Education. Jerry, who earned his degree from Iowa State University in 1962, is the retired chairman and co-CEO of OSI Industries, LLC, a company that, with his help, became one of the world’s largest providers of meat and poultry products to global customers.

Throughout their lives, Karen and Jerry have traveled the globe and, in their travels, have seen firsthand the impact of poverty. Their desire to make a difference by reducing poverty, promoting resilient communities and improving people’s lives through sustainable agriculture motivated them to partner with MSU.

Together, the Kolschowskys have given significantly to MSU in support of the university’s work in Africa. They are co-founding benefactors for the Tanzania Partnership Program (TPP), which is the first initiative of the Partnerships for Sustainable Community Development (PSCD), a program housed in MSU’s Office of International Studies and Programs.

The partnership is a long-term collaborative alliance of local and international organizations dedicated to improving local livelihoods. The partnership’s goal is to promote a sustainable livelihood and improve the resilience of individuals and communities with a focus on addressing issues of hunger and poverty. The Kolschowsky family has traveled to Tanzania several times to witness the impact of their philanthropy and MSU’s program in action.

The initiative has been life-changing in many ways: student attendance and performance increased due to school lunch programs and improved facilities, drinking water was made safe and more available with rehabilitated water tanks and new boreholes, the construction of a cattle dip dramatically decreased disease, among many other notable impacts.

The Kolschowskys’ top priority is to ensure that the work of the program creates a demonstrable impact in the lives of others, but they’re also committed to cultivating future generations of change agents. The Tanzania Education Abroad Program allows students from MSU and partner Tanzanian universities to learn hands-on how sustainable development is practiced. Jerry and Karen’s living legacy continues to transform lives and inspire students to make great changes in the world.