What did an investment club of five Upjohn Company employees and the 1957 launch of Russia’s Sputnik satellite have in common? The creation of the Kalamazoo Science Foundation Scholarship.
The link between the two events began with The Upjohn Company’s hiring of Dr. Richard Schreiber in 1949 as vice president of research. Schreiber joined with two fellow researchers, an attorney, and the treasurer to form their after-work investment club. The success of Sputnik caused nationwide concern – due to Cold War tensions – that the U.S. was falling behind in science and technology. Here at home it motivated the investment club to designate a portion of their investments for science scholarships.
Two years after Sputnik, the club had established the Kalamazoo Science Foundation , providing scholarships for students with financial need to pursue math, science or engineering. The first renewable awards, totaling $400, were made to one female and one male student. KSF added an educator to its board of trustees in 1964. The scholarship awards increased over the years as investments in KSF grew.
KSF decided to transfer its assets to the Kalamazoo Community Foundation in 1999 as a more efficient way to administer the scholarship program. The trustees have continued as the advisory committee, maintaining the original name, expertise of the members and scholarship criteria, with the addition of the computer sciences.
George Macleod, chair of the advisory committee since 1973, also serves as the historian of KSF. Macleod notes that the special feature of the scholarship is that advisory committee member mentors a recipient. In addition, the committee interviews each finalist and continues to meet with the recipients for updates as long as they are in the program. He credits the mentors he had at Kalamazoo College, for helping him develop his love for teaching biology and for coaching.
"Do well in high school and college to maximize your choices," Macleod tells students. "Get a firm background in the liberal arts and get involved in extra-curricular activities, which will give you the people skills and the experience to find your passion."
When KSF was looking for a partner to hold and administer its funds, Macleod says it was The Upjohn Company’s long-standing admiration for the Community Foundation that convinced KSF trustees that its scholarships "would be honored and protected" at the Community Foundation.
The Kalamazoo Science Foundation Scholarship Fund, now providing renewable scholarships of up to $2,000 to high school seniors and college undergrads, has provided almost $180,000 in scholarships to 55 students.