The University Insider is The Daily’s first faculty and staff-oriented newsletter. This weekly newsletter will give U-M faculty and staff the ability to see the most important issues on campus and in Ann Arbor — particularly those related to administrative decisions — from the perspective of an independent news organization. It will also provide a better understanding of student perspectives.
Namesake of the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, philanthropist and alum Penny Stamps died Thursday in her home at the age of 74. Stamps had been battling leukemia.
Stamps, along with her husband, E. Roe Stamps, established the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation and gave back to the University of Michigan in significant ways throughout their lives. The Penny W. Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series began in 1999, with Stamps contributing funding for the series.
The Stamps family foundations provided the most generous gift the Art & Design School has ever received —$32.5 million—in 2012. The University of Michigan’s Board of Regents then renamed the school in her honor.
In the University Record, President Schlissel highlighted the role Stamps played in the University community and her passion for art.
“Our Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design proudly bears her name, reflecting her unwavering support of our students and her vision for championing art and design’s power to foster creative solutions that enhance the lives of people on our campus and around the globe,” Schlissel said. “I will always remember Penny’s warmth and kindness, along with her devotion to helping the University of Michigan — and the world — become a better place.”
Additionally, the Stamps Foundation is known for its merit scholarship program, which grants multi-year scholarships and fellowships. The program began in 2006 and has reached more than 1,600 students across many institutions throughout the country, including the University of Michigan.
Engineering senior Cole Schneider is a Stamps scholar at the University. In a post on Instagram, Schneider shared a photo of the Stamps scholars and wrote about the importance of the program and the impact of Penny Stamps.
“Thank you, Penny,” Schneider wrote. “It was your desire to support students that brought these people into my life, and I’m a better man for it. If there’s one thing we can learn from you, it’s to be generous with what we have to give, whatever that may be. You will be missed dearly, but your legacy will surely live on with each one of us.”
One of the first tasks for Art & Design School Dean Guna Nadarajan when he stepped into the role was formalizing the name change to the school with Stamps, according to the Record. He said her presence had provided energy and inspiration.
“Penny was passionate about helping students across the country be the best that they could be,” Nadarajan said. “Her time, energy and commitment seemed to know no bounds. Seeing young people harness the power of higher education was a driving force in her life. She was — and is — an inspiration to me and to all.”
Stamps was the most recent commencement speaker this past spring. In her speech, Stamps expressed to students that education continues throughout their entire lives.
“Now, go out there and break the rules,” she said. “Make the world a better place for your being here. Create fantastic art. Design products which will change the way we look at the world. Dream, engage, imagine. Live a glorious and fantastic life, and do it with courage, grit and determination.”
Stamps’ funeral will take place Tuesday in Coconut Grove, Florida. Instead of bringing flowers, guests are encouraged to donate to the Art & Design School.