Alumni, students join together to create Leaders Fellowship Endowment

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A group of 31 volunteers have made an unprecedented commitment to fund the development of future leaders at Kettering University by joining the President's Council.

Alumni and students are working together to create the Student Leaders' Fellowship Endowment. Founded about a year ago, the endowment provides financial support to student leaders who have taken an active role in positively impacting the Kettering University community during their academic career.

"This endowment is significant," said Kettering President James E.A. John. "Leadership is the essence of our mission here at Kettering and it has always been the purpose of this school. This endowment shows how loyal our alumni are and how interested they are in helping future generations of students."

The initiative was created by students working with Dr. Patrick Deese, dean of Student Affairs, in 1999. Each of the 31 donors designated a $10,000 contribution to the Student Leaders' Fellowship Endowment, qualifying them for membership to the President's Council. The contribution is collected over a 10-year span.

Kettering encourages donors to use matching gift programs that are often available through their employer. The $10,000 commitment generally equates to a $1,000 donation a year. However, matching gifts can reduce the amount to as little as $216 a year. Undergraduates and alumni in graduate school may defer payments until they return to work full-time.

"This is a fantastic program," said Nick Evans, associate vice president for Individual Gifts. "It is unprecedented for a donor to agree to a $10,000 commitment before they've been out of school for 15 years. Everyone who hears about this is moved by the generosity of the alumni and the serious investment they are making to help tomorrow's leaders at Kettering."

Evans said the ultimate goal is to increase the Student Leaders' Endowment to $1 million with President's Council members participating during the next decade.

"Working with former students to create this endowment program has been a delight, said Dr. Deese. "I know of no other similar program at any university. Certainly, the program that this endowment will fund will make an incredible impact on promoting student leadership opportunities for students shortly after they arrive at Kettering. It will also encourage a sustained interest in leadership development throughout a student's Kettering career," he added.

Among the alumni currently supporting the endeavor are co-chairs Steve Sordahl '98 of Farmington Hills and Jon Chase '98, who recently completed his MBA at Harvard. Serving as Selection Committee Chair is Mike Lashbrook '98 of Rochester.

Other "presidential" donors include: Tim and Sandra Andrews; Sabin Blake; Yong Chung; Ben Coon; Dr. Patrick Deese; Frank Dichoza; Matt Drane; Eric Gandhi; Brad Grems; Ben Hoffman; Sheri Houston; Judy Judson; Curt Kulczycki; Mike McCleary; Denise McCrossin; John Melton; Miek Neldrett; Harris Ng; Stefan Osterbur; Ani and Stanley Patterson; Bradehn Robison; Jody Sautter; Mark Scalf; Drew Spooner; Kirsty St. Croix; Steve Straub; James Tadra; and Ann Marie Weitzel.

Evans said that endowment members will select fellowship recipients and receive invitations to an annual reception for members and fellowship winners. Members will also be invited to participate in leadership classes for campus leaders and in brainstorming sessions on ways to improve leadership opportunities at Kettering. A mentoring program is also under development.

Sordahl said the process has begun to choose the first class of leaders to benefit from the endowment. An operating budget of $12,000 in 2001-02 has opened the selection process to candidates.

The selection process follows:


  1. The Leaders Fellowship Endowment should be readily publicized to the students of Kettering University, beginning their freshman year.
  2. The recommended time for applications to be issued will be near the end of the summer section (A), fall section (B), 9th week.
  3. The applications should include a description of the endowment, with its history, and the qualities that it symbolizes, so the applicants know what to focus on in their responses.
  4. The recommended date for applications will be 3rd week during the following work section.
  5. The selection committee will make selections based on a subjective review of the application material. The decision will include evaluating all pertinent information on the application for the qualities of leadership that the organization symbolizes. Phone interviews and/or personal interviews may also be used.
  6. A formal mixer shall be held at Kettering University after the selection process has commenced, congratulating the recipients and introducing them to the organization and its members.
  7. The awards will be formally presented during the corresponding convocation ceremony of the following academic term.


  8. Sophomores and above, who are in good academic standing, are eligible to apply.

    Financial Objective:

  9. The financial award and number of awards will depend on the financial standing of the Endowment, given to the selection committee from the treasury. The focus should be on giving as large a number of awards as possible; however, the amount should be large enough to entice the interest of perspective candidates.