Lucas father and son endow CANR scholarship
Richard Lucas (Social Science, ’64) wanted to establish a scholarship in honor of his father, retired MSU Extension Professor Robert Lucas. Richard knew his dad would want the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences to benefit from the gift, as well as incoming students, with a preference for students from Starke County, Indiana, where his dad and mom had graduated from high school. The Robert “Bob” Lucas Endowed Scholarship was created with a pledge from Richard.
Richard explained, “Dad has worked so hard all his life. This endowment was established to recognize his work and to help people to look back on dad’s professional work in Indiana, at Michigan State, in Florida, and in more than 59 countries he traveled to. His life has inspired me and my brothers, and I wanted to make sure his legacy stays with MSU forever.”
Robert Lucas was so honored by the scholarship, that he made gifts himself of $70,000 to the scholarship, fully funding the endowment before the 5-year pledge period ended. This has enabled the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences to offer the scholarship to a student for the Fall 2009 semester. The first scholarship recipient is Lucas Costanza, a freshman majoring in Crop and Soil Sciences.
Robert reflected on what funding this scholarship means to him. “This endowment will help to keep my wife Norma and me associated with MSU forever,” he said. “The Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and my past work in this department continue to impact so many families. I was raised on a family farm, I am one of 11 children and I know the struggles that students face as they think about a college education. Through this fund many students who would not have dreamed of college will get an opportunity to attend college.” He added, with a smile, “the first student who received this scholarship just happens to have a very good name – Lucas.”
Robert’s affiliation with MSU began with the doctoral program he completed in 1947. In 1951 he accepted a position as associate professor of soil science. He became a full professor in the MSU Extension in 1957. He specialized in the management of field and vegetable crops (onions, mint, celery, carrots, potatoes, and lettuce), especially those grown in organic soils.
Crop and Soil Sciences Chairperson Jim Kells has a deep appreciation for this gift. “Endowments such as the Lucas Endowment are very valuable to the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences,” he stated. “These funds help us attract and retain outstanding students, including out-of-state students. Our graduates are in high demand, and endowments help us meet this demand with well educated and highly capable graduates.”
Lucas Costanza, the first Lucas scholarship recipient, was the valedictorian at Berrien Springs High School. He considered attending other schools, but receiving scholarship support helped sway him to MSU. With a background in agriculture stemming from working on his family’s farm, he hopes his MSU degree will launch a career as a crop consultant or crop breeder. “This scholarship is one of the building blocks of my education and a big part of me being able to attend MSU,” he said. “Knowing all my hard work in high school paid off and that there are people willing to support me; that is definitely a big motivator.”
The Lucas Endowment will benefit future Spartans in perpetuity, since the principal is preserved and only the interest income will be spent each year. Other members of the Lucas family and their friends also are contributing to the endowment. It is clear that this father and son have created something special that can benefit students and the university today and for generations to come.
For more information about making a gift to the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, contact Interim Senior Director of Development Jackson Kaguri at (517) 355-0284.