Giving

Donor Stories: Why Give?

Each year alumni, corporations and friends of this school, join us in our mission to prepare the next generation of cross-disciplinary art and design thinkers, entrepreneurs and innovators.

Here are a few ways they have impacted the School through their giving.

Supporting International Travel and Creative Work: The Candy Wei Prize for International Travel
Supporting International Travel and Creative Work: The Candy Wei Prize for International Travel

“My study abroad experience changed my life” is a sentiment often repeated among students who study internationally. Professor Jing Wang, mother of Stamps student Candy R. Wei and Professor of Chinese Media and Cultural Studies at MIT, knows that the experience also changes the creative work that students make.

With a new cash gift and a planned gift to a fund named for her daughter, Jing has established a significant financial award for students at the Stamps School. The new Candy R. Wei Prize for International Studies in Art and Design provides financial awards totaling $5,000 annually to Stamps Students in recognition of exemplary work influenced by their international experience.

To create this new award, Professor Wang took advantage of the Michigan Matching Initiative for Student Support. This new gift significantly builds on the generous support Jing has already provided to the Stamps School. Following the death of her daughter Candy in 2001, Jing established the Candy R. Wei International Travel Fund.

As a mother who lost a daughter at age 21, Professor Wang is comforted by the impact her contributions are making on students’ international experience. “I feel Candy’s spirit is alive and going strong.”

Paul Hoogesteger: Supporting the Opportunity Fund
Paul Hoogesteger: Supporting the Opportunity Fund

Paul Hoogesteger (B.Des. ’51) doesn’t shy away from commitment. Married for 62 years, he’s been a faithful donor to the School for even longer. For the past 64 years Paul has contributed $100 each year to the Stamps School’s Opportunity Fund. He looks back on his time in Ann Arbor fondly, and feels that Michigan gave him the skills he needed to move into a design career. “When I graduated I decided to pledge some small amount, but to continue every year. Thanks to good health, I’m 88, It’s grown to a reasonable sum.”

Proctor & Gamble Fund Supports Innovative Product Design Course
Proctor & Gamble Fund Supports Innovative Product Design Course

What do a portable urban garden, stacking storage cubes, a disaster relief shelter, and a one-handed kitchen have in common? They are all products developed in the cross-disciplinary Integrated Product Development course (IPD). IPD brings together students from Stamps, the College of Engineering, and the Ross School of Business to design a consumer product, and develop a supporting business plan and a website. Taught by Ross School Professor Bill Lovejoy and Stamps School Assistant Professor John Marshall, IPD has attracted national media attention in Businessweek, CNN, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal, among others.

Now IPD has garnered corporate funding support. Drawn to IPD’s unique educational experience the Proctor & Gamble Fund has given IPD a $10,000 grant.

“P&G is proud to support the Integrated Product Development course at the University of Michigan. We recognize that this course prepares students for careers in business by creating a learning environment that encourages and enhances innovation and creativity,” said Brian Sasson, P&G Fund/P&G Corporate Contributions Manager. “This is an important investment that we hope benefits students for years to come.”

IPD offers a type of learning experience that is at the core of the Stamps School’s goals: expanding teaching and learning opportunities that foster interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation.

A Scholarship Fund In Memory of Milton Cohen
A Scholarship Fund In Memory of Milton Cohen

If you went to U-M in the 1960s you probably knew, or knew of, Milton Cohen. A founding force behind the famous 1960s group, ONCE, Milton was a professor at Stamps (1959-1970), a gifted teacher, and pioneer of new genres. To help keep his name and his memory alive for future generations his brother, Ralph Cohen, established a scholarship fund for Stamps students in Milton’s name.

“My brother had a lot to offer, to his students, his colleagues and his friends,” says Ralph. I know he was happy teaching at U-M. I want other people to know who he was and to remember him. Although we went our separate ways at an early age, I felt this was something I could do for him.”

The Martha Chandler Endowed Scholarship Fund
The Martha Chandler Endowed Scholarship Fund

James Poppy met his future wife, Martha Chandler, in 1949 under the Magnolia tree outside of Martha Cook dormitory, when both of them were taking a break from studying for exams. He was finishing a B.A. in Philosophy and preparing to enter medical school. She was a young art and design student. In 2004 Jim and Martha created the Martha Chandler Endowed Scholarship Fund at the Stamps School of Art & Design. The scholarships assist with financial aid for qualified students entering the Stamps School.

The Poppys saw their endowed gift as “part of our comprehensive University of Michigan plan. We were a fortunate generation,” Dr. Poppy acknowledges. “After World War II we had job opportunities and advancement opportunities. It was a wonderful time. So when I retired in 1987, we decided it was time for payback. Martha loved her time at the art school, so it seemed only natural to create an annuity scholarship fund to help art and design students.”

“Martha and I believed an annuity was a good way for a retiree to gift,” Dr. Poppy confirms. “As you know, planning for the future includes securing income. So this type of gift was a win/win. We could help art and design students and we benefited from a guaranteed fixed income that could be calculated to last a lifetime.” In early 2013, Martha Chandler Poppy passed away. Dr. Poppy chose to establish the Martha Chandler Endowed Scholarship Fund with the residuum of their gift. The scholarships provide financial aid for qualified students entering the Stamps School, with preference given to students from the New Hampshire county where Martha grew up. Once established, additional gifts to the fund were received in Martha’s memory from family and friends.

The Sylvia and David Nelson Scholarships
The Sylvia and David Nelson Scholarships

Fifty years ago, there were few scholarships and no loans available to U-M students. So Sylvia (BFA ’68) and David Nelson (BSD ’65) both worked their way through school.

Over time, the Nelsons have cherished their memories of the University of Michigan. “We’re both proud of attending the U-M and proud of our ties to the School of Art & Design,” David says. “We continue to believe that the arts are an essential part of human life. Without the creativity found in the arts and other disciplines, society will eventually fail.” In 2005, the couple established the David Robert and Sylvia Jean Nelson Foundation for Arts and Letters.

Through their foundation, the Nelsons and their three children also provide annual scholarships for continuing Stamps students at U-M, as well as students at other colleges and universities. As Sylvia explains, “We know how expensive art school can be and how few scholarships are available beyond the freshman year. It feels good to give back this way, to help educate the next generation of artists, creators and builders who will contribute so much to our world.” 

Scholarship Support: Dean Guna Nadarajan and Stamps Faculty Irina Aristarkhova
Scholarship Support: Dean Guna Nadarajan and Stamps Faculty Irina Aristarkhova

Reading the letters from scholarship students may be one of the overlooked jobs of a dean, but it’s something Stamps dean Guna Nadarajan takes very seriously. “It’s heartbreaking, really, the stories some students tell,” says Nadarajan. “Education is not just any job. There’s a real human dimension to all we do. And as I make decisions, meet with faculty, and strategize for the sake of the school, I like to keep the students and their needs at the forefront.”

Nadarajan and his wife, Irina Aristarkhova, a professor at the Stamps School, Women’s Studies and History of Art, made a decision to set up an endowment for need-based scholarships. “We both come from humble backgrounds. Irina got some scholarships but I didn’t have any. We both felt that this was something we had to do—to give back and have an impact on this problem” Guna says. “Merit scholarships are important and necessary, but we wanted to make it more possible for people from diverse socio-economic backgrounds to be able to study here. It’s a value for us personally and also a value for our institution.”

New Donor to the Annual Fund: Mike Long
New Donor to the Annual Fund: Mike Long

When Mike Long (BFA 2007) came to the Stamps School, he already knew that he wanted to work in a design field. And throughout school he envisioned his future as a product designer.

But after graduation a job as a production artist turned into a position as an apparel graphic designer, which led to managing the retail department within the company.

He credits the Stamps School’s focus on critical thinking with helping him transition from a design position into a career that integrates design elements into all aspects of his work. This direct connection between his college experience and his career was one of the reasons that Mike decided to start giving to the School in 2009, and it’s one of the main reasons that he continues to give each year. “I feel it’s important to continue to give because I can trace a direct line from my enrollment to my current career. If I had not attended the Stamps School, I would not be in the position I’m in today.”

Matching Gifts: The Van Allsburg Undergraduate Scholarship Challenge and the Maskell Match
Matching Gifts: The Van Allsburg Undergraduate Scholarship Challenge and the Maskell Match

In 2010 two Stamps alums, author and illustrator Chris Van Allsburg and Lisa Van Allsburg created the Van Allsburg Undergraduate Scholarship Challenge Match. They matched all gifts for undergraduate scholarships, dollar for dollar up to $200,000. This was a wonderful opportunity, in effect, to double the power of each donation.

In 2003, Dick and Odette Maskell committed $1 Million to be used to match gifts made to the the Stamps Annual Fund over the five years of the Michigan Capital Campaign. With their pledge, the Maskell Match encouraged first-time donors to give and increased giving from the School’s current donors.

Project Funding Support: The Marc and Ilene Steglitz Fund
Project Funding Support: The Marc and Ilene Steglitz Fund

Marc and Ilene Steglitz have lives immersed in creative work— Marc as CEO of the Guggenheim Museum and Ilene (A.B.eD ‘64) is a practicing artist. So it was no surprise that they found a particularly creative way to enhance the education of Stamps students. In 2005, Marc and Ilene championed a fledgling TV and online venue for the School called PLAY Gallery. The project provided an outlet for time-based work on PBS and online, while providing valuable work experience for young animators and producers involved in the PLAY production office. As PLAY evolved beyond the arena of time-based work, the Steglitz’s remained actively engaged with the project and its core mission – to provide visibility for the work of our students, alumni and faculty. PLAY now includes Penny Stamps lectures, a student image gallery, stories about alumni and students, interviews with visiting artists, feeds from all our social media networks and more.

Recently, the Steglitz’s have officially coalesced their yearly pledges of support into the Marc and Ilene Steglitz Fund which, over the next five years, will both help the School build on our efforts to showcase the radical, thought-provoking work of our students, faculty and alumni, and provide professional development opportunities for our aspiring artists and designers.