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Donor Spotlight

Richard Cook and Teresa Lahti

Richard J. Cook and his wife, Teresa Lahti, have established the Richard J. Cook and Teresa M. Lahti Undergraduate Research Endowment. This fund supports an undergraduate in a research lab for a year. Cook graduated from the University of Michigan in 1969 with honors with a B.S. in Chemistry. His undergraduate research experience, he reports, set him on his career path. Cook earned a PhD in Chemistry from Princeton University in 1973 and then joined the faculty at Kalamazoo College. He became well known for environmental work. From 1996-2008, he served as President of Allegheny College and is now a principal of Lahti Search Consultants. Cook was the Chemistry Commencement speaker in 2016.

Kathy Dien Hillig and Kurt Hillig

Michael Morris, Kathy Dien Hillig, Kurt Hillig, and Robert Kuczkowski

A family history of education in the Department of Chemistry is being honored by a gift from Dr. Kathy Dien. Hillig and Dr. Kurt W. Hillig, II. Their gift of $100,000 will establish the Hillig Chemistry Graduate Student Endowed Fellowship Fund, which will provide merit-based support for students enrolled in the Department of Chemistry who are pursuing graduate degrees with an emphasis on Analytical or Physical Chemistry.

Two generations of Hilligs have earned degrees from the UM  Department of Chemistry. Kurt’s parents are graduates, as are Kurt and Kathy. Dr. Beth E. Cook Hillig, received her B.S. 1944, her M.S. in 1946 and her Ph.D. in 1949. Dr. William B. Hillig, received his B.S. 1944, his M.S. in 1948 and his Ph.D. in 1954. Both were students of Kasimir Fajans.

Kurt, a student of Robert Kuczkowski, finished his Ph.D. in 1981, and Kathy received her Ph.D. in 1983, working with Michael Morris.

Wayne A. and Carol H. Pletcher

As the Victors for Michigan campaign went into full swing, the Department of Chemistry announced a major gift of $100,000 from Wayne A. and Carol H. Pletcher to establish a fund to support graduate students. This gift has been augmented by matching funds. “These additional graduate fellowship funds will significantly enhance our graduate program and we are very grateful for this gift,” said Carol Fierke, UM Chemistry department chair when the gift was made. Wayne Pletcher earned his M.S. and PhD (1970, Wiseman)  in Chemistry at the University of Michigan and was a postdoc at UM. He was an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota, formerly the director of Corporate Technical and Business Planning at 3M and president and CEO of Minnesota Technology, Inc. Carol Pletcher earned an M.S. in Chemistry (1968) from UM and a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Minnesota. She is a former vice president at Cargill and the current president of Pletcher Incorporated.

John Gladysz and Janet Bluemel

John Gladysz (B.S. 1971) a distinguished professor of chemistry and Janet Bluemel, professor of chemistry, at Texas A&M University, have pledged more than $1 million from their estate to endow the Edward and Margean Gladysz Professorship, which will provide research support for an associate professor in Chemistry. They also plan to establish a fund that will provide research support for advanced assistant professors. Additional bequests will support undergraduate students and provide discretionary support to the department. The professorship fund is named in honor of John’s parents, who have also made a generous bequest to this fund.  John’s sister, Margean V. Gladysz, has also provided a bequest through her estate to support the professorship. John worked with Daniel Longone while an undergraduate at Michigan. Texas A&M, the University of Utah, and Western Michigan University are also recipients of John’s and Janet’s generosity. John began his studies at Western Michigan University and the family has Kalamazoo roots.