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Oct. 19, 2018

$1M gift establishes endowed professorship in teacher education

Cathy Oberg Blight, a pathologist and three-time graduate of Michigan State University, has made a $1 million commitment to create an endowed faculty position in the College of Education.

The gift creates the Roger and Florence Oberg Endowed Professorship in Teacher Education, which will attract and support a scholar who will focus on improving how the nation’s schools serve English language learners.

After graduating from MSU in 1971 with a degree in biochemistry, Oberg Blight returned to the College of Natural Science to complete her master’s in 1973. She then fulfilled her dream of becoming a doctor in 1977 through the College of the Human Medicine.

Oberg Blight retired earlier this year as director of pathology for Hurley Medical Center in Flint. She credits her parents, both Spartan educators, for encouraging her throughout her successful career in medicine. She created the Oberg professorship — one of 104 new endowed faculty positions established at MSU during the Empower Extraordinary campaign— to honor their legacy as MSU graduates who spent their lives devoted to K-12 schools. 

“My parents never discouraged me from doing anything,” she said. “They believed that education was a way to move forward and succeed in life. They loved the university so much and had been touched by the College of Education, so it seems like the right place to do something.”

The professorship will strengthen a top priority area for the Department of Teacher Education, and for educators in the future, said Chairperson Margaret Crocco.

“English language learners are one of the fastest growing groups of students in Michigan’s and the nation’s schools,” Crocco said. “Preparing teachers and faculty members for addressing the needs of these students in K-12 schools and in teacher preparation programs is becoming ever more important.

“Our faculty expertise in this area will be made even stronger and more visible with the addition of this position. We are extremely grateful to Cathy Oberg Blight for her generosity.”

Along with the teacher education professorship in her parents’ names, Oberg Blight has also made new gifts of $600,000 to the MSU Libraries and $200,000 to Human Medicine.

“[My parents] were very humble people,” she said. “It would probably embarrass them a bit. My hope is that what the whole MSU community has provided me and what I have worked for diligently can help in some small way to provide such things for future generations. It’s my way of giving back.”

By: Nicole Geary