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Dec. 28, 2015

Endowed chairs lead to big ideas

Fifteen years ago, internationally known plant biologist Dean DellaPenna was in the midst of being recruited by other institutions — and he could have gone anywhere.

But DellaPenna and his wife (also a plant biologist) ultimately chose MSU.

“MSU struck a chord with us,” DellaPenna said. “Primarily because it’s one of the best places in the world to do plant biology research, particularly plant biochemistry — MSU is a leader in this field, no doubt.”

The university has a long history of scientists excelling in and leading the field of plant biology. With active research labs and one of the largest concentrations of biochemists in the country, MSU is uniquely positioned to solve global problems.

DellaPenna is a University Distinguished Professor in the College of Natural Science who was named an MSU Foundation Professor this year. He is using private support to investigate how to make drug treatments more effective and increasing vitamins in food for the world’s population.

“Being an endowed chair provides you with freedom to pursue ideas that you really wouldn’t be able to otherwise,” DellaPenna said. “It has allowed me to use seed money for some big ideas.”  

It is clear that private support is the key to attracting top researchers like DellaPenna to MSU, and endowed funds pave a path for faculty chasing down real-world solutions. 

Empower endowed faculty positions

Reprinted with permission from Empower Extraordinary: The Campaign for Michigan State University


By: Sarah Wardell