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Alma Matters

  • Author:
    Robert Bao, Lois Furry
  • Published:
    Summer 2013



Jan. 19:  About 15 area Spartans teamed up with Greater DC Cares for the 2013 MLK Weekend of Service.  Spartans painted lines in the hallways, organized the library, and created college pennants at Plummer Elementary School, Washington, DC.


Dec. 10: More than 100 area Spartans gathered at JP Morgan Chase on Madison Avenue, New York City, for a reception and conversation with President Lou Anna K. Simon (front, middle) and Vice President of Research and Graduate Studies Dr. Stephen Hsu (front, left).


Mar. 3:  More than 80 area Spartans attended the Kalamazoo Spartans Men’s Basketball Watch Party and Silent Auction at Old Burdick’s Wings West to watch the MSU vs. U of M basketball game.  The event raised $800 for the club’s Scholarship Endowment Fund.  Feb. 16:  More than 20 area Spartans attended the KZOO Spartans Euchre Tournament and Men’s Basketball & Ice Hockey Watch Party.  The event raised $270 for Communities In Schools, Kalamazoo.  Feb. 2: More than 30 area Spartans gathered for the KZOO Spartans Indoor Bags Tournament & Ice Hockey Watch Party at Old Burdick’s Wings West to watch the MSU vs. U of M game.  The event raised $200 for KZOO Spartans Scholarship Endowment Fund.  Jan. 22: More than 30 area Spartans attended the KZOO Spartans Bell’s Beer Tasting & Men’s Basketball Watch Party to watch MSU vs. Wisconsin.


Jan. 26: Over 100 area Spartans gathered at MSU’s Wharton Center for the Spartan Crystal Ball, an annual gala fundraiser for the club’s endowed scholarships program.  Katie Kelly (left) and Rhonda Abood co-chaired the event. Special guests included Emcee Charles Ballard; 2013 Spartan Hero Awardee Kellie Dean; 2013 MSU Alumni Club of Mid-Michigan Quality in Undergraduate Teaching Awardees Carl Liedholm and Aklilu Zeleke; Acting Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs June Pierce Youatt; and Associate Vice President and MSUAA Executive Director Scott Westerman.  The event raised $18,000.


Mar. 15:  About 25 area Spartans in Savannah, GA, raised $500 for Cancer Research through alumni gatherings and fundraisers.  Feb. 1:  Beginning in February, Atlanta and Savannah area alumni are reaching out to Spartans to support the MSU License Plate for Georgia residents program (see photo of a sample plate). They need to raise $25,000 for Georgia to issue official MSU License Plates.


Feb. 18:  More than 30 area Spartans gathered for Spartans on the Square, a monthly social gathering and dance at Lake Sumter Landing Market Square.


Feb. 28:  About 150 area Spartans attended the 18th annual MSU Means Business at the Secchia Center in downtown Grand Rapids.  Special guests included (l to r) John Shinsky, MSU Trustee Mitch Lyons, Joan Secchia, Honoree Kellie Dean, and Ambassador Peter Secchia.  Feb. 7:  About 800 area Spartans attended the 2013 Spartan Winter Tailgate at the DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. Special guests included Kirk Cousins (see photo), MSU Football Coach Mark Dantonio, and MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis. The event raised $100,000 for Grand Rapids Public Schools and the Mitch Lyons Tight End Scholarship Endowment.


Nearly all of the landscape architecture students at MSU participate in study abroad, thanks to the foresight of dedicated faculty and the generosity of donors who wanted others to see the world.

That’s the legacy of John Chipman (’53, Agriculture and Natural Resources), who died in 2011, and his wife, Patricia “Patti” Chipman, who created an endowment that provides significant scholarship support to enable landscape architecture students to participate in study abroad, says Professor Warren Rauhe, director of MSU’s Landscape Architecture Program from 1995 to 2005.

Caring about others came naturally to John and Patti.  After starting Chipman Landscaping in Kalamazoo, MI, they developed a line of fiberglass planters and benches as a way to provide year-round employment for their landscape staff.

Their idea grew to become Landscape Forms, the leading designer and manufacturer of furniture for outdoor environments in North America.

“The products Landscape Forms produces are the absolute best in design and quality,” says Rauhe.  “They have no peer.”

The success of the company was also due in large part to John’s leadership style that was ahead of its time in being open book and inclusive of all employees.

“Everybody there was part of the family,” Rauhe recalls. “If people looked hungry he’d go get food.  He was humble but very capable and always prepared for any opportunity that came along.  How many people do you know that have an Audi TT with a trailer hitch?”

Giving back to MSU was long a high priority for John and Patti.  They first started an MSU scholarship endowment in 1986.  The Chipmans refined the scope in 2000, amending the endowment to create the John and Patricia Chipman Endowed International Enrichment Program in Landscape Architecture, specifically to support students in study abroad.

“John always felt his travels abroad were a huge source of inspiration,” says Rauhe.  “He and Patti wanted everyone to have this experience.”

The Chipmans committed additional support to their endowment through a bequest, which, when realized, will put the Chipman endowment well over $3 million. Patti’s current gifts support the program on an annual basis and add even more to the endowment.  This support makes the program a reality now.  Coupled with the success of MSU’s Common Investment Fund, which consistently exceeds rates of return in comparison to peer institutions, the endowment has grown and will continue to increase, becoming a significant source of support that will enable students to participate in study abroad in perpetuity.

Rob Dalton (’11, Agriculture and Natural Resources) says that his study abroad experience—which included three weeks in London, and one week each in the cities of Edinburgh, Paris, Barcelona, Rome and Berlin—drastically changed his perspective.

“Europeans tend to put more money into well-designed places than we do as Americans. We accept mediocrity because we think it is all we can afford,” he says. “Their parks are not leftover spaces, but integral parts of their walking commutes and social atmosphere.”

Employers look for students with cultural sensitivity and international travel experience, notes Scott Witter, professor and director of MSU’s Landscape Architecture Study Abroad Program.

Bob Ford (’75, ANR), principal of Landscape Architects & Planners, Inc. and president of the MSU Landscape Architecture Alumni and Advisory Board, sees firsthand the long-term impacts the study abroad program has for the MSU graduates his company hires.

“It opened their eyes and better prepares them to meet the global challenges facing the world today,” he says.

Michigan State has led the nation in study abroad participation among public universities for the last six years. Each year, close to 3,000 students participate in more than 275 programs taking place in some 60 countries around the world. 

Thanks to John and Patti Chipman there will always be a cadre of landscape architecture students among them.

For more information on
making a gift to the College
of Agriculture and Natural
Resources, contact Senior
Director of Development Jody Ackerman at or call (517) 355-0284.