Jon and Terri Voigtman
Mike and Pam Murray
Bob and Diane Tomczak
Dr. Gregory W. Housner ’83
Pamela Gilbert ’72
Debra Harwood ’75
Lauris Martin Barr ’57
Ed Fernandez ’84
Gerald Riseley ’64
Jon and Terri Voigtman
Voigtmans donate time, talent and more than $1M to Central Michigan University
Passion drives alumni Jon and Terri Voigtman in deciding how to support the educational experiences of Central Michigan University students.
And during the past decade, their support has totaled more than $1 million.
The Voigtman name can be found across campus, particularly tied to areas they’re passionate about, including business, education and athletics. Jon, ’84, received a degree in business administration and was a gymnast during his time at CMU. Terri, ’85, received an education degree.
The duo met when he was a junior and she was a sophomore.
The couple’s financial gifts to CMU include:
- Two learning facilities in Grawn Hall, focused on advanced business technology:
- The Voigtman Financial Lab, named in 2014, includes terminals equipped with the Bloomberg Professional service, allowing students to monitor and analyze real-time financial market data and practice making trades on an electronic trading platform like those used on Wall Street.
- The Voigtman ERP Lab, named in 2017, is a state-of-the-art SAP lab and classroom environment, complete with technology-rich features such as automated classroom management equipment, touchscreen smart boards and 40 SAP workstations.
- Classroom and meeting space in the College of Education and Human Services Building, were named for Terri’s family lineage that have devoted their careers to teaching in Michigan.
- Establishment of the Voigtman Family Endowed Scholarship in 2006, supporting a renewable scholarship for a junior or senior from Michigan enrolled in the College of Business Administration that has interest in pursuing a career in financial services or capital markets.
- Support of athletics, including the John G. Kulhavi Events Center and the wrestling and football programs.
For the Voigtmans, their biggest motivation to give is making sure students dream big and have competitive experiences to succeed on the global platform.
“There’s this whole world out there, and for us it’s so important to make sure students have access to tools and relationships that spread the CMU DNA, not only in Michigan but outside of Michigan,” Jon said. “Here at Central, our career dreams were established and cultivated along the way, and we want to do the same for others.”
So much more than money
The Voigtmans’ involvement in their alma mater matches their monetary gifts.
Jon stays involved as a member of the CMU Advancement Board and the College of Business Administration Business Roundtable. He has been an advisor to the university’s endowment for the past decade and also has been a finals judge in the New Venture Competition and keynote speaker at Dialogue Days.
“There is an exponential impact when you combine giving with active campus involvement; making those dollars so much more valuable,” Jon said. “We are fortunate enough that we could give financially, but I think we personally get the most out of sharing our ideas to help shape, and maintain, the honored traditions at CMU.”
Through his regular visits to campus, Jon said he’s able to see the impact of their gifts firsthand.
“Sometimes when I’m on campus I visit the (Voigtman Financial) lab, log onto a Bloomberg terminal and strike up conversations with the students working in there,” he said. “I get to hear about the amazing things they’re doing, and I’m astonished by what they’ve learned.”
That impact, he said, follows students beyond campus.
He uses recent alum Ryan Heeke as an example. Heeke, a recipient of the Voigtman Family Endowed Scholarship, works for the same investment bank as Jon, RBC Capital Markets. Ryan is on one of the top syndicate desks in the world, where he is responsible for marketing, pricing and distribution of billions of dollars of debt issued by RBC’s clients.
“Ryan’s skills, attitude and tenacity got him an internship at RBC, and then his exceptional performance got him the job at the conclusion of that summer,” Jon said. “It is so fun and rewarding for me to see these kids from Central Michigan competing right up there against students from the top business schools in the nation.”
Jon said there’s something special about CMU students that sets them apart.
“CMU students bring heart and a work ethic that is core to the Midwest and particularly to Michigan,” he said. “When you combine that heart and work ethic with intelligence and a willingness to be trainable, it produces very strong performers who are likable.”
Previously, Jon held management positions at companies including Electronic Data Systems and Freddie Mac and held executive positions at Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs and HSBC. He currently serves as managing director and senior officer at RBC Capital Markets in the Bahamas. Terri taught special education at middle schools in Bridgeport, Michigan, and Fairfax County, Virginia. Today she spends a great deal of time volunteering.
The Voigtmans live in the Bahamas.
Jon was inducted into the CMU College of Business Administration Hall of Fame this fall.
Mike and Pam Murray
Getting back and giving back
One raised hand in a volunteer meeting can lead to a lifetime of service. One well-educated, mission-driven student can inspire positive change throughout a community.
Those powerful ripple effects of commitment and caring are hallmarks of Central Michigan University’s culture, and they’ve inspired one alumni couple to make gifts totaling more than $500,000 during the university’s Fire Up for Excellence campaign.
Mike Murray, a 1975 graduate of the business administration program, and Pam Murray, who earned a bachelor’s degree in home economics in 1977 and a master’s degree in management and supervision in 1983, have been coming back to campus to volunteer for decades.
Bob Martin, vice president of advancement at CMU, said the programs the Murrays have chosen to support are critical areas for student success and alumni engagement. “CMU Chippewas will feel the impact of their giving for generations to come.”
Open doors to involvement
Mike said there was very little business alumni involvement during his time as a CMU student. His cohort was among the first large classes to graduate, and there simply weren’t many alumni who could return to campus.
As a result, Mike didn’t have much connection with professionals in his chosen field — he was hungry for a mentor who never materialized.
When he returned to CMU years later as a campus recruiter, he saw a chance to satisfy that same hunger for guidance in the students he interviewed.
“It really hit home for me that I could be the role model I never had in school,” he said.
— Mike Murray
As a student, Pam felt she had been extremely involved on campus. She worked in residence halls and the University Center and sold concessions at athletic events.
Yet as an alum, she realized how much she’d missed: She never attended a student professional organization meeting or tried anything too far outside her comfort zone.
“It’s what drives me now. I want to make sure current students know about all of the opportunities open to them, whether it’s internships, Study Abroad, student professional organizations or volunteering.”
She volunteered for the CMU alumni chapter in Detroit, developed her own professional and social network, and began connecting with students.
One good turn deserves another
Over the years, the Murrays each held a number of roles on CMU volunteer boards.
Both are former members of the CMU President’s Grand Rapids Area Advisory Board and the New Vision of Excellence campaign committee. Pam served on the Women’s Connection Grand Rapids Advisory Board and is an emerita Alumni Board member. Mike is a current member of CMU’s Advancement Board.
The Murrays have mentored dozens of students through the College of Business Administration’s Dialogue Days. They’ve stayed in touch with many of them, following their careers over time, and continuing to offer advice and guidance.
“When I tell my story, they are so eager to learn from me. They want to know what I do and absorb what I have to share,” Pam said.
The most efficient way to change the world
The Murrays saw how their education had equipped them to solve problems and make a difference.
“Many of the problems we face today are driven by a lack of knowledge or understanding. If our gift enables a student to achieve a level of education that, in turn, allows them to go out and make positive changes in the community, that’s a very effective way to address a broad range of issues,” Mike said.
The couple hopes their giving will inspire others to share their own time, talent and treasure to increase support for CMU.
“We see ourselves reflected in the students. We could see how much they wanted to achieve and accomplish and remembered feeling those same things,” Mike said. “Working with those students, you could really see the transformative power of education.”
Bob and Diane Tomczak
Married Grads Fund Scholarship for Transfer Students
Bob and Diane Tomczak say they both began at Central Michigan University with no idea about their career paths—and left with a clear direction. And that is why they have directed that their estate plan fund a scholarship that will help other students find their own path.
Robert “Bob” Tomczak ’73 and the former Diane Carstens ’74,’75,’84 are endowing a scholarship for Delta Community College transfer students interested in studying applied sciences or business. Bob received an associate’s degree from Delta before transferring to CMU to study in the College of Business Administration. Diane taught writing at Delta College for several years.
“Students need the same opportunities that we had at CMU,” Bob says. “CMU has provided guidance and direction, and giving back is the way to show our appreciation.”
“I see many hardworking students stop short of receiving a college education due to financial constraints,” adds Diane. “Both of us see the need for good students to have the opportunity to go beyond a two-year school and complete their education.”
Bob had a long career in the sales and service of bank coding equipment, while Diane taught junior high English for 25 years in the small town of Vassar, Michigan, east of Saginaw. Bob said he chose CMU because it was easy to transfer from Delta, it was affordable, and he had friends who were attending. Diane knew about the school’s reputation for turning out great teachers. She also had family attending and said CMU “fit my comfort zone.”
The Robert and Diane Tomczak Endowed Scholarship will be funded through their estate plan. The Tomczaks said that they chose to make a bequest to CMU because they have few other beneficiaries, and it allows them to make the most impact with their financial portfolio. They urge other alumni to review their estate plans and consider including CMU. “It will be nice to know that through this scholarship, future students will have the same opportunities we had,” Bob says.
They expressed gratitude for the CMU education that allowed them to “learn from professors with real-world experience.” They also mentioned the CMU experience of “camaraderie with other students, coming of age, and making lifelong friends.”
The Tomczaks visited the campus recently and said it was nice to see the university growing—while retaining the character they remember.
“The memories came flowing back; I wanted to be 18 again,” Bob says. “We are proud that CMU has become more multi-culturally diverse and that it is growing and showing its importance to the state of Michigan. We are very proud that.”
Dr. Gregory W. Housner
Surgeon’s Gift to CMU Helps His Parents Too
Dr. Gregory W. Housner’s parents paid tuition to Central Michigan University while he was an undergraduate taking the first step to become an orthopedic surgeon. Now CMU is paying his parents as a result of the charitable gift annuity he recently established with the school.
Through the gift annuity he has found a more tax-effective way to help his loved ones—and solve one of the top “charitable dilemmas” faced by the philanthropically inclined.
“This gift has a dual purpose,” Greg says. “It fulfilled my need to give, but also the annuity gives back to my parents. It’s nice that they get a check with the CMU letterhead on it. They are wonderful people and the greatest influence on my life.”
Greg graduated in 1983 and then went through 11 more years of medical education. “Now I love to perform surgery to help people,” he says. He has been honored on the list of America’s Top Doctors®.
While at CMU, Greg played football and baseball, winning two conference championships in each sport. He met his wife, Marybeth, while in residency, and they have two daughters, Emma, 16 and Isabel, 12.
Greg thanked CMU’s planned giving staff for suggesting the charitable gift annuity and offered this message to other alumni about why they should support CMU: “This is an impactful institution that needs to stay competitive.”
Pamela Gilbert ’72
Pamela Gilbert ’72 Built a School in Ecuador—and Endows CMU Scholarship with Gift in Will
Pamela S. Gilbert ’72, a retired math teacher who founded a school in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador, is giving back to Central Michigan University with a gift in her will that is establishing an endowed scholarship.
The Pamela S. Gilbert Endowed Scholarship will benefit teacher education students pursuing a degree with a mathematics concentration.
“Even during my formative years (ages 17-21 in 1968-1972), I knew that CMU was not only special but integral in my development,” Pam says. “CMU has an ‘honored position’ in my will.”
After teaching math for many years in Boulder, Colorado, Pam did a lot of traveling. She and her guide got lost during a hike in Ecuador in 2003, and two young boys helped rescue them—and told Pam that they walked two hours to school each day. Inspired to return the favor, she raised money to build a school and help launch a drinking water project in their village.
Pam’s gift to CMU comes from money made investing in Colorado real estate, and she credits a course she took at the university.
“It never occurred to me that the one-credit honors course in investment would impact so dramatically the rest of my life,” she says. “It planted the seed of thought to be responsible for my financial future. And I felt that it was only appropriate that I should share some of this bounty with the great place of CMU!”
Debra Harwood ’75
Grateful Alumna Funds Scholarship in Her Estate Plan
A retired national bank examiner, Debra Harwood ’75 didn’t exactly use the bachelor of arts in home economics degree she earned at Central Michigan University. But she credits her education at CMU with her success on her final career path—which is why she is establishing a scholarship through her estate for a CMU student from her high school.
“A college degree tells the world that you have worked hard to succeed, and that translates into success in whatever career path one pursues,” she said. “Education can never be taken away and is so vitally important to success in the twenty-first century.
“I’m excited that someone from the Tawas Area High School will be the recipient of my scholarship,” she said. “I took a lot with me when I left CMU in 1975, and through my scholarship, hopefully I’ll be able to give back more than I took.”
Lauris Martin Barr ’57
Teacher’s Passions Spark Charitable Gift Annuity
With a lifelong love of reading and a passion for encouraging student growth and learning, it’s no surprise that Lauris Martin Barr ’57 decided to give back to her alma mater with a meaningful gift to Central Michigan University’s library. She says, “I have always loved reading. As a child I would go with my family into town on Saturday night. One of our stops was the library, where we chose our books for the next week.”
Lauris was the third oldest of ten children in her family. She attended Central Michigan University in 1953 and especially enjoyed the library science classes. With financial assistance from a State Board of Education Scholarship, she was able to graduate from CMU in 1957 debt-free! She then went on to receive a master’s degree from Michigan State University.
After graduation, she followed her dreams and embarked on a teaching career at elementary schools in Michigan and Arizona. She says, “CMU gave me the skills necessary to become a teacher, which is something I always wanted to be.”
Currently retired, Lauris and her husband Robert now have two grown children, five grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. In her spare time she continues to enjoy reading, along with knitting, crocheting, and scrapbooking.
When she received a small inheritance from her parents’ estate, Lauris decided that investing in Central Michigan University through a charitable gift annuity made perfect sense. As with her teaching career, her planned gift to support the CMU Libraries will help students succeed and grow through engaging learning experiences.
Lauris likes knowing that her legacy gift will make a significant difference in the lives of future generations of CMU students.
Ed Fernandez ’84
Fernandez Honors Parents with Gift in His Will
With parents who fled Cuba in 1962 so that Ed Fernandez ’84 and his brothers could have a better life, Ed knew early on the importance of receiving a quality education. As a successful broadcast VP and General Manager for WXYZ-TV, Divisional General Manager for E.W. Scripps, and a Central Michigan University Distinguished Alumni, he has done much with his higher education for which his parents can be proud.
A native of Michigan, Ed received his BA from CMU in Broadcast and Cinematic Arts in 1984. While still a student at CMU, he worked at WMHW in Moore Hall. He says, “Because of what I was able to participate in at an early stage of my college experience, it got me actively involved and propelled my passion in the business.”
After initially starting his career with WZZM in Grand Rapids, he worked his way up through WOOD, and WXMI in West Michigan, as well. He eventually served as President and General Manager of Telemundo Chicago – WSNS, the NBC owned affiliate in Chicago. He proudly credits CMU’s student-centered learning for his professional development and success. His memories from CMU, he says, are “amazing.”
While currently leading the efforts in Detroit, Ed’s professional memberships include serving on the CMU Development Board and the Alumni Broadcast and Cinematic Arts Advisory Board.
As an additional way to give back for all he received, Ed has now made a provision in his will to support future generations of Central Michigan University students. His gift is in honor of his parents’ courage and educational commitment. “I am forever grateful for the love that they showed me and my brothers,” he says, “They are my heroes.”
Gerald Riseley ’64
Gerald Riseley ’64 Has Four Key Reasons He Is Giving Back
Academic excellence, down-to-earth values, a good value for the cost and an environment that promotes closeness with professors and other students: Those are four reasons why Gerald Riseley ’64 is giving back to Central Michigan University. The retired engineer has created several charitable gift annuities that pay him income for life, with the remainder to go to the university.
“CMU gave me so much in getting off to a good career,” says the physics and math major. Gerald initially worked as a design engineer but then became a sales and marketing engineer, selling sensors and hardware for an Oklahoma firm and winning many sales awards. He retired to Punta Gorda, Florida, 16 years ago.
Gerald says he chose gift annuities because they are a “win-win” for him and CMU. “They provide nice benefits to the university and to myself – a sense of giving back and a nice return for me,” he says. “When Ted Tolcher (associate vice president for development and external relations) visited me at my home in Florida, I felt a special connection to CMU.”
That connection began as an undergraduate with the caring attitude of the professors. “The physics professors especially were very patient and provided all that was necessary to learn and get involved in the lab experiments,” Gerald recalls. “I really enjoyed the closeness to some of the professors.”
The honors student also liked working part-time in the TV studio, running the video recording/playback machine. Now he loves to sail near his Florida home and also enjoys antique automobiles and traveling. He has visited CMU and commented that it has “grown tremendously.”
“CMU is one of the best values in terms of return on investment – I was economically rewarded because of my education,” Gerald says. “At the same time, I learned how to be a balanced citizen. CMU really helps you feel that you are an important part of it.”