The ‘Multiplier Effect’ - Matching-gift program doubles the impact of philanthropic support

How can a 20-minute plane ride change a life forever? In Mike McCulley’s case, it inspired him to become an astronaut.

McCulley, who received his Purdue bachelor’s and master’s degrees in materials engineering on the same day in January 1970, came from humble beginnings in Tennessee. His high school grades, he says, were “just OK.”

He took his mother’s memorable advice: “The best way to succeed is to leave town.” He joined the U.S. Navy and began working on submarines.

“I really liked it, and I wanted to stay. I wanted to be an officer.” That required going to college.

McCulley’s commanding officer succinctly told him, “‘You have to go to Purdue,’ and I said, ‘Yes, sir.’”

McCulley had never been to Purdue, or to Indiana, but he “fell in love with it. I was hit with the learning bug.” His plan was to return to submarine work — until the day a Naval recruiter from Chicago flew onto campus and offered students familiarization flights with a pilot. McCulley took flight. “Twenty minutes later, my life had changed. I went over that day and signed up for flight training.”

He became a test pilot and was guided by other pilot mentors who helped him advance. In 1984 he was selected to become an astronaut. The next seven years he spent at NASA, with a 1989 mission as pilot on the Space Shuttle Atlantis. He later spent 17 years on the business side of aerospace, retiring in 2007 as the president and chief executive officer of United Space Alliance.

“I have what I need in life,” McCulley says from his home in Houston. “My degrees from Purdue are significant — so well thought of. It makes sense for me to give back.”

When he heard about the recently launched matching-gift program made available through the College of Engineering’s Reinvestment Plan, it resonated with him. Made possible by $2.3 million allocated to supplement donor investments, the program calls for the College of Engineering to provide a 100 percent match for new endowments created to support named strategic initiative funds within the college’s schools, divisions and programs. Donors are able to help shape the future of the school, division or program of their choice by providing unrestricted support.

McCulley’s $12,500 gift will create a $25,000 endowment in support of MSE.

“I’ve had good relationships with the MSE heads,” says McCulley, who sits on the school’s advisory committee. “They know far better than I do what their needs are. I like them to have the flexibility to get what they need.”

Part of the Team

Jim Schorr has never shied away from the opportunity to make an impact as part of a team. He arrived on campus from Batesville, Ind., in 1950 and played varsity basketball and baseball at Purdue while also participating in Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity, ROTC, Omega Chi Epsilon, Skull and Crescent, and Gimlet.

In 1955, Schorr (BSChE ’54, HDR ’87) joined The Dow Chemical Company in Midland, Mich., and became part of a small group of engineers who in the next few years developed and manufactured StyrofoamTM. Joe Rudolph, executive director of the Purdue Alumni Association, encouraged Schorr to remain engaged with Purdue.

“He convinced me of the importance of continuing to be involved when he came to an alumni club meeting back in 1957,” Schorr says. “I value the education I received, and I’ve stayed connected in different ways through the years — through sports, John Purdue Club, President’s Council, Krannert Dean’s Advisory Council, as champion recruiter at Purdue for Dow Chemical and through the School of Chemical Engineering.”

Schorr and his wife of 58 years, Jane, have four children who graduated from Purdue — Jenny Hughes (BA CLA ’81), Daniel Schorr (BS Tech ’85), Andrew Schorr (BS CFS ’88) and Thomas Schorr (BS Ag ’93); and two daughters-in-law — Christina Schorr (BA Education ’88) and Jill Schorr (BS Science ’93).

Since 1990, Jim Schorr has been very active in keeping alumni connected to the School of Chemical Engineering. He is a founder and member of the first ChE Industrial Advisory Council (established in 1988) and the ChE Ambassadors Club, a chemical engineering alumni group he helped start with Dick Hazelton (BS ’64, HDR ’98), Phil Krug (BSChE ’52), Don Orr (BSChE ’61, HDR ’06), David Rea (BSChE ’62) and Bill Wishlinski (BSChE ’68). He has also served on the Chemical Engineering Campaign Steering Committee and was named a Distinguished Engineering Alumnus (1974) and an Outstanding Chemical Engineer (1993).

“When I first became involved with the School of Chemical Engineering, I said it would probably take 20 years to build up a culture of philanthropic support for the school,” Schorr says. “Since that time, I’ve enjoyed being part of many great projects.”

After endowing the James and Jane Schorr Chemical Engineering Scholarship in 2009, the couple recently chose to endow a strategic initiative fund in support of the School of Chemical Engineering. Their $12,500 contribution will be matched to create a $25,000 endowment.

“The matching funds offer a great way to meet a short-term target,” Schorr says. “I believe in the direction chemical engineering is headed.” 

Maximum Leverage

Empowering Purdue is an aspiration that Juan Ernesto de Bedout (BSIE ‘67, MSIE ‘68) wholeheartedly shares with other Purdue Engineering benefactors.

This loyal Boilermaker is used to accolades. De Bedout recently retired following years of success as group president of Latin American Operations for Kimberly-Clark, makers of Huggies and Kleenex. But he is quick to proudly note that one of his two sons, a nephew and a niece also are Purdue alums — two of them with Engineering PhDs. 

With a history of giving both of his time and resources to Purdue Engineering, de Bedout chairs the College of Engineering Advisory Council and serves on the Industrial Engineering Advisory Council. He recently structured a fund of $72,000 by leveraging the college’s matching-gift initiative and the matching programs of his associated companies. This “multiplier effect” maximizes the impact of a donation, de Bedout says.

“It is very fulfilling to facilitate links between the country where you were born and the university where you were formed.”

– Juan Ernesto de Bedout

“I try to make the best use of what is available,” de Bedout says. “For example, if $10,000 is the maximum a given corporation will match per year, a donation of that amount will become $20,000. In a case such as mine, with the generosity of two corporations that have similar programs, that $10,000 contribution becomes $60,000. For alumni who sit on several boards, this is an interesting way to also help others help.” 

Born in the country of Colombia and now residing in Atlanta, de Bedout is retired from Kimberly-Clark but remains a senior consultant. He also serves as a director of VF Corp., the maker of lifestyle brands such as The North Face and Timberland.

De Bedout also has been instrumental in the formation of the Colombia-Purdue Institute for Advanced Scientific Research, a partnership between Purdue and the Colombian government. This strategic collaboration was formed to help Purdue achieve its mission of global impact as it assists Colombia in achieving its scientific priorities.

De Bedout joined a delegation that traveled to Colombia with former Purdue President France A. Córdova to meet with President Juan Manuel Santos and key government, industrial and academic leaders, and Purdue alums in several cities. “It is very fulfilling to facilitate links between the country where you were born and the university where you were formed,” de Bedout says.

De Bedout says his unrestricted gift to the ReThink IE Strategic Initiative Fund will provide a way for others to support what has historically been one of the best programs in the nation. “The fund will provide flexibility as the school looks into the future to pioneer efforts that will address the grand challenges of society in various fields,” he says. 

A Passion for Helping

Jim Anderson (BSCE ’72, MSEE ’72) learned of the College of Engineering’s reinvestment plan and made a quick decision to jump on board with a very generous $100,000 gift to the Strategic Initiative Fund in support of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“I think it is great having the matching element of any fundraising program, so that was a big attraction,” Anderson says.

Anderson, who resides in Palo Alto, Calif., and serves as a mentor with Stanford University’s business, engineering and medical schools, enjoyed a 20-year venture capitalist career. He was instrumental in many successful business start-ups.

“My passion is helping other people help themselves,” he says. “I love working with groups of people where they put together a concept and run with it. I particularly love things that have a lasting value.”

Anderson believes it would be very useful for Purdue to become more involved with other universities in the entrepreneurial field.

Strength in Numbers

In the School of Engineering Education (ENE), Industrial Advisory Council members pooled resources for a gift of $22,000 that will be matched for a $44,000 total endowment.

Led by Chair Rick Zadoks (BSME ’83, MSME ’85, PhD ’88), the council members saw the matching program “as a way to create a permanent fund to support the work in ENE, and as a great opportunity to leverage our personal gifts through multiple levels of matching.”

The members’ personal gifts were matched first by their companies, then by Purdue. “Our gifts are increased severalfold,” explains Zadoks, who is an engineering technical steward with Caterpillar Inc. in Mossville, Ill.

“Unrestricted funds are important, especially in an emerging field like engineering education,” Zadoks says, “because they can be used immediately to address needs or to take advantage of opportunities that are unanticipated. This allows the school to do what is needed, when it is needed.”

Keeping the College Competitive

Since the matching program was announced in October 2011, supporting donations have almost reached the $2.3 million allotment. With a large base of generous alumni who are eager to see the College of Engineering flourish, the program is destined to have a major impact with ripple effects for years to come.

“We need to keep Purdue Engineering at the forefront, in line with its inspiring vision of Extraordinary People and Global Impact,” de Bedout says.

Zadoks says, “My hope for the College of Engineering is that it continues to make me proud to say that I am a graduate and a Boilermaker, and that it continues to provide a world-leading educational experience, produces world-changing research, and provides support to industry in Indiana, the United States and around the globe.”