Grand Rapids couple contribute to scholarships, mathematics education
Grand Rapids community leaders Mike and Sue Jandernoa are donating $4.3 million to expand scholarships at the Ross School of Business, contribute to fellowships at the Ford School of Public Policy and assist the University of Michigan School of Education’s TeachingWorks organization, the University announced Thursday.
The statement said $3 million of the couple's donation would be dedicated to a TeachingWorks parternship with schools in Grand Rapids, with a specific interest in improving students’ mathematics proficiency. TeachingWorks is a national organization based at the School of Education, seeking to improve entry-level teachers’ preparation for the classroom. The Jandernoas emphasized the importance of the mathematical readiness in order to improve the number and quality of jobs college graduates are offered.
The Jandernoas recognized lapses in students' mathematical abilities, specifically in western Michigan. The statement referenced recent results of Michigan Department of Education testing, which revealed troubling data on math proficiency in the area. Grand Rapids is located in Kent County, where proficiency was barely above 40 percent for third graders, and below that marker for eighth graders.
“Just at the time when the current workforce needs better math skills, our high school graduates have significantly less math understanding and proficiency,” Mike Jandernoa said. “We must help these students in math now so they can have successful jobs in the future.”
The Jandernoas’ contribution is part of a recent increase in University investments in Grand Rapids and western Michigan, after Metro Health Corporation joined Michigan Medicine in 2016.
“The communities around Grand Rapids … are among the fastest growth areas in Michigan economically, so when you look at potential economic benefit to our Health System … I think that's a major component,” former Regent Laurence Deitch (D) said at a 2016 Board of Regents meeting.
Another $1 million portion of the gift will go toward creating the need-based Mike and Sue Jandernoa Scholarship fund at the Business School to serve undergraduate business students. Mike Jandernoa received his Bachelor of Business Administration from Ross in 1972. Business Dean Scott DeRue said the creation of the scholarship aligned with the Business School’s mission.
“The Ross School aspires to develop business leaders who will challenge the present and enrich the future for the benefit of all. This very generous commitment from the Jandernoas helps to ensure that the most talented students — regardless of financial means — are able to achieve this aspiration,” DeRue said in the press release.
The remaining portion of the donation will go to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Fellowship Fund at the Public Policy School. The fellowship is awarded to graduate students who “exemplify the president’s commitment to bipartisan cooperation and civility, be deeply and positively engaged in community service, and intend to pursue a lifelong career in the public sector.”
“We launched the Presidential Fellowship during the 100th anniversary of the public policy program to reinvigorate our commitment to the public good,” Public Policy Dean Michael Barr said in the press release. “The significant and generous gift from Mike and Sue Jandernoa will support aspiring public servants who will serve the school, state, and nation President Ford loved.”
In total, the Jandernoas have given more than $10.4 million to the University in areas from athletics to financial aid. In 2007, Mike Jandernoa was awarded the highest honor for donors and volunteers, the David B. Hermelin Award for Fundraising Volunteer Leadership.