Preiss bequest will endow position
Passion for education, love for each other and thankfulness for a university that makes their lives richer are all profoundly apparent in University Distinguished Professor Emeritus Jack Preiss and his wife Sue. The couple recently chose to make a charitable bequest through their estate plans to fund the Dr. Jack Preiss Endowment in Biochemistry supporting a faculty position or graduate fellowship in Jack’s former department, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. The bequest to their endowment will be made available at the death of the surviving spouse.
“MSU has treated us very well,” Jack said. “I loved it and I met Sue here. I feel I would like to give something back.”
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Jack earned his B.S. in Chemistry at City College of New York and his Ph.D. at Duke University. After postdoctoral work, he became an assistant professor at the University of California at Davis and rose through the ranks to professor and then chairman. He joined the MSU faculty as chair of the Biochemistry Department in 1985. In 2001, MSU recognized him as a university distinguished professor. He received many awards and honors during his nearly 50-year career, but the accolades that mean the most to him are the ones that come from his former students. He inspired many, especially 24 graduate students and more than 100 post-docs, undergraduate students, and visiting academic and private industry scientists who worked in his lab.
He also taught literally thousands of undergraduate students with enthusiasm and skill. Former students often write to thank him for his encouragement and help in mastering difficult concepts. And he kept his lectures lively and memorable. He was well known, for example, for helping students learn scientific processes through altered lyrics to popular songs.
Tom Sharkey, Biochemistry chair, notes “Jack’s leadership in the department and nationally, combined with his outstanding research and dedication to teaching, have had a tremendous impact. Jack always has a smile and respect for everyone. I always look forward to talking with Jack and appreciate his positive outlook. Jack and Sue’s generous gift to fund the Dr. Jack Preiss Endowment in Biochemistry adds to his rich legacy here.”
While Jack’s career soared to enviable heights based upon his expertise in science, Sue points out that Jack’s skill in singing is no less inspiring. He regularly lends his practiced operatic tenor voice to the local community in his service as cantor at their synagogue. He also participated in several operas. His last performance was as Prince Orlofsky in Johann Strauss’s “Die Fledermaus” presented at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts. Jack plans to enjoy a good deal of his retirement in musical performance.
Sue, after a long and successful career in the financial industry, recently sold her financial advising business to join Jack in retirement. She also has an artistic flair and is devoting a good deal of her newfound time to oil painting.
The couple is quick to assert that they have no intention of becoming Florida snowbirds. They do enjoy travel, but they are avid sports fans and would never want to miss MSU’s basketball season.
“East Lansing is a great community and the interaction with the university is terrific,” Jack said. Sue agrees, noting that the quality of their lives here made it important for them to give to MSU. “We wanted to help repay the benefit that MSU affords all of us that live in this community.”
For more information on making a gift to the College of Natural Science, contact Senior Director of Development Suzette Hittner at (517) 353-1637.