$17 Million MSU Gift Creates Undergraduate Scholars Program, Supports Engineering Faculty

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$5 million of the $17 million Martin Vanderploeg donated to MSU will go to the College of Engineering faculty. // Courtesy of Michigan State University

Michigan State University at East Lansing has received a $17 million gift from alumnus Martin J. Vanderploeg that will create a flagship program to help first-generation students succeed in college and fund additional endowments to attract and retain engineering faculty leaders.

Vanderploeg, a technology pioneer and president and CEO of Iowa-based Workiva Inc., dedicated more than 70% of his donation to creating an endowment for the Vanderploeg Scholars Program at MSU to help supporting first-generation students – those who are the first in their families to attend university – with scholarships and academic programs.

Vanderploeg, who earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in mechanical engineering from MSU, also donated to the College of Engineering to create staffed faculty positions and advance engineering research while creating new opportunities for students. to learn and collaborate with esteemed teachers.

“I think the hope of humanity lies in education,” says Vanderploeg. “Our great public universities are one of the most valuable educational resources we have. They do most of the good for the world and it is an asset on which our country depends. I am privileged to be able to help the state of Michigan as one of those great institutions. »

MSU President Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said, “Preparing bright young people to lead the world through all the challenges ahead is at the heart of everything we do in the State of Michigan, and the Vanderploeg Scholarship Program will help ensure that first-generation students have this opportunity.

“Similarly, great faculty is at the heart of our creative enterprise and these staffed positions, and the Research Support Fund will enable us to attract and retain leaders at the cutting edge of discovery.” We are deeply grateful for the support and generosity of Marty Vanderploeg. MSU is honored to recognize their contributions to the creation of these positions and resources. »

The Vanderploeg Scholarship Program will provide new pathways to success for first-generation students for whom navigating academia can be particularly challenging. Participants will be supported by multiple initiatives, including scholarships, summer bridging programs, additional academic counseling, a study abroad opportunity, and a mentorship program. Vanderploeg Scholars will meet regularly with Vanderploeg Advisors, who will take an individualized approach to each student’s success.

The program aligns with one of the key pillars articulated in MSU’s recently released strategic plan: closing the gap in undergraduate opportunity. Currently, 21% of MSU’s undergraduate students are first-generation, many of whom come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

“We know that first-generation undergraduates persist and graduate at much higher rates when supported both inside and outside of the classroom,” says Mark Largent , Associate Vice-Rector for Undergraduate Education. “They thrive when they collaborate with other first-generation students and when they see and hear their presence at MSU recognized and honored.

“Sir. Vanderploeg’s generous gift will allow us to create a cohesive program of support for first-generation students at MSU. Our first Vanderploeg Scholars will arrive on campus already connected to a network of social and academic success. We are grateful and thrilled may Mr. Vanderploeg help us cultivate a sense of belonging for the Spartans of tomorrow.

Endowment gifts are invested to provide a stable, consistent, and perpetual source of income. Vanderploeg has set aside a portion of $200,000 of his total donation to be used immediately to cover expenses needed to begin the scholarship program in 2022.

Having been inspired as a student by his own professor mentor, his additional $5 million in support to the College of Engineering will create three endowed faculty positions, one named in honor of his father, Marvin L. Vanderploeg , who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1956. His gift also creates an expendable research fund at the College of Engineering to improve and enhance the scope and scale of research capabilities.

Vanderploeg is known for his leadership in the technology industry, including as co-founder of Workiva Inc., a cloud-based software technology company for enterprise data management, and as co-founder of Engineering Animations. Inc., specializing in computer-aided design. computer software used in medical and forensic applications.

Previously, Vanderploeg was a full professor of mechanical engineering at Iowa State University, where he founded and directed the Visualization Lab.


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