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July 11, 2019

Udpas engineer support for students with gift

A gift valued at $1.001 million from Acting President Satish Udpa and his wife, Lalita Udpa, will support the education of Michigan State University College of Engineering students.

Both are engineering professors at MSU and experts in the area of nondestructive evaluation. They made their gift before Satish Udpa’s appointment as acting president in January. Their gift will create the Satish and Lalita Udpa Endowed Graduate Fellowship and the Satish and Lalita Udpa Endowed Scholarship.

The Udpas several years ago created endowments to honor their parents Vasanthi and S. Ramamohan Udpa, and Janaki and S.V. Srinivasan.

“They were our first teachers and mentors and the first to introduce the notion that knowledge is valuable for its own sake,” Satish Udpa said. “Throughout the years, their belief in lifelong education never flagged.”

“Their selfless commitment to education and their insistence on doing one’s duty greatly influenced the character of their children and grandchildren,” Lalita Udpa added.

“We are extremely grateful for the contributions by both Satish and Lalita to the college — their leadership and service, conscientious education of our students and for their financial support,” College of Engineering Dean Leo Kempel said. “Dedicated faculty such as Lalita and Satish are part of the core fabric of the college, part of what makes Spartan engineers exceptional.”

Satish Udpa will return to his position as executive vice president for administration with the arrival of president-designee Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., Aug. 1.

Udpa is a University Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the former dean of the College of Engineering and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He has published extensively, is a fellow of four academic societies, holds several patents and is editor of several journals.

Lalita Udpa is a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, who recently also was awarded the title of University Distinguished Professor. She was one of only nine women in the country featured in a 2018 story on "Women in NDT" in Materials Evaluation, the scientific journal of the American Society for Nondestructive Testing. Her MSU awards include the William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award and the Ralph H. Smuckler Award for Advancing International Studies and Programs.

There is meaning behind the specified amount of their gift.

“As we were finalizing the documents, Satish kept quoting a number that was a bit higher than what we had agreed,” said Stephen Bates, the college’s senior director of development. “I didn’t want to seem ungrateful and I didn’t want to question his mathematical skills, but I needed to get this right. I asked him about the discrepancy and he informed me of an Indian tradition to always give more than you were asked for, thus the extra $1,000 in the gift.”

To create the gift, the Udpas signed a retained life estate agreement and a bequest during MSU’s Empower Extraordinary campaign, which closed in December 2018 after raising $1.83 billion.

To learn more about giving to Michigan State, go to