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MSUFCU Surpasses $10M in Support for MSU

MSUFCU’s commitment was most recently evidenced by three $1 million grants to endow programs in jazz studies, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum and Wharton Center for Performing Arts.

The Rock

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 77 years later, that small enterprise has grown to more than 175,000 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.

MSUFCU’s commitment was most recently evidenced by three $1 million grants to endow programs in jazz studies, 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.


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,” said 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,” said James Forger, dean of the MSU College of Music.

MSUFCU President and CEO Patrick McPharlin said, “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.


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,” said 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.

“We can’t overestimate the importance of the MSUFCU support for our program that brings artists in direct contact with students, families and all our visitors,” said Michael Rush, director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. “Seeing great art in the galleries is one thing. Having artists themselves interacting with our visitors is a unique and irreplaceable gift.”


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 that MSUFCU fulfills our mission of helping our members achieve their dreams and the ‘people helping people’ philosophy on which credit unions were founded,” said April Clobes, executive vice president and chief operating officer for MSUFCU.

MSUFCU created the endowment because it understands the economic and cultural contributions of Broadway performances to the community, Clobes said. 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,” said Mike Brand, executive director of Wharton Center. “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,” said Simon.

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.

Addressing the three gifts and MSUFCU’s attainment of more than $10 million total giving to MSU, Clobes said: “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.”

Each endowment is managed by MSU’s Office of Investments and Financial Management. 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 of similar size, says Robert 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.