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Museum Endowment Funds
The new Museum of Natural History is celebrating seven new endowment funds! Long-time generous donors have established the following endowments that will provide growing and long-term impact and support for programs that align with their interests.
- James C. and Tracey J. Bahen Student Docent Enrichment Fund
- Jack Daball Museum Programs Fund
- Shirley Daball Museum Garden Fund
- David L. DeBruyn Digital Dome Theater Student Internship Fund
- Amy Harris Director's Strategic Fund
- Amy Harris Museum Professional Development Fund
- Larsen Family Exhibit Fund
- Dr. Eileen Starr Hands-On Science Fund
Endowment funds help secure the future of Museum programs for generations to come. If you’re interested in contributing to any of these endowments, click the “Donate Today” link above and type the last name in the “Search for Funds” field. If you’re interested in establishing a fund in your name, please contact Nora Webber at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-936-5834.
Additional opportunities for community support are coming soon!
Learn About Our Recent Museum Endowments!
James C. and Tracey J. Bahen Student Docent Enrichment Fund
In the fall of 1983, University of Michigan freshman Jim Bahen heard about a campus job that involved dinosaurs. He walked past the pumas, into the Rotunda and became a UMMNH student docent. He would later describe it as “one of his best Michigan experiences.”
While it was fun learning about all of the different exhibits in the Museum, the tours were the most enjoyable part for Jim. He fondly remembers the school kids who found the Museum boring, and those who knew more than he did. As with many student docents, Jim’s favorite part of tours was presenting the hands-on materials such as a mammoth tooth, a trilobite, and of course, the coprolites.
In honor of his time as a docent, Jim and his wife have established the James C. and Tracey J. Bahen Student Docent Enrichment Fund will support annual enrichment opportunities and training for U-M Museum of Natural History student docents. Jim and Tracey’s generous gift will provide support in perpetuity for docent field trips, specialized training, hands-on objects, and much more.
“When I think back to the numerous tours I gave during my time at the ‘Exhibit Museum,’ I like to think there’s at least one kid out there who got bitten by the science bug and looks back and asks, ‘Remember when that guy made us touch dinosaur poop?’” said Jim. “I want to ensure that there will always be docents who can inspire kids by sharing a bit of that poop."
Jack Daball Museum Programs Fund
John (Jack) Daball doesn’t remember the first time he visited the U-M Museum of Natural History—or as he knew it, the Exhibit Museum—but he fondly remembers spending many hours in the galleries during his time as a College of Literature, Science and the Arts undergraduate and Library Sciences graduate student in the 1940s and 1950s. The Museum continues to be one of his favorite stops when he is in town.
Jack made his first donation to the Museum in 1998 and has continued to make annual donations ever since. He enjoyed participating in the Museum’s Buy-A-Bone campaigns, helping establish and sustain the Butterfly and Pollinator Garden, and providing Museum field trips for underserved school children.
Jack often commented that he wished he could do more for the Museum, so we began discussing the idea of establishing an endowment fund in his name. He decided to establish the Jack Daball Museum Program Fund to support his favorite programs today and tomorrow.
On several occasions, Jack noted how helpful the Museum’s student docents have been when he’s visited, how important it is to him that we continue to care for the Butterfly and Pollinator Garden, and that underserved students have access to the Museum. The Jack Daball Museum Program Fund will provide funding for programs such as these in perpetuity, and the endowment and program support will grow over time.
“I didn’t realize that a donor at my level could have such a great impact,” Jack said on several occasions.
Shirley Daball Museum Garden Fund
Before developing Alzheimer’s disease, Shirley Daball was a devoted Wolverine fan who never missed a home game and traveled to many away games.
Shirley was also a devoted U-M Museum of Natural History fan. She was fascinated from the first time she entered the Museum, and made sure to visit it whenever she and her husband Jack were in Ann Arbor. When friends visited the couple’s home in Jackson, Shirley made sure they went to see the Museum, saying “I want you to see my fossils.”
Shirley worked as assistant to the vice president of Comerica Bank. Her husband recalls how fond Mr. Campbell was of Shirley, describing what a great day it was when the “fiery redhead” took over his office with efficiency and serene confidence.
In 2003, Shirley was one of the first donors to the Museum’s Butterfly and Pollinator Garden, and she always “bought a bone” during Buy-A-Bone fundraising campaigns.
Over the years, Jack continued to send donations to make sure “Shirley’s butterfly garden is taken care of." After learning of the impact his initial endowment gift would have for the future of Museum programs, Jack thought it was important to establish a second endowment fund in honor of Shirley.
The Shirley Daball Museum Garden Fund will ensure ongoing care of the new Museum’s garden, allow for additional plantings, provide educational activities and support for volunteer gardeners now and in perpetuity.
“Shirley always said the University should be proud of the treasure trove they had in the Museum,” Jack said. “Now Shirley will be recognized by this special place forever. That makes me happy.”
David L. DeBruyn Digital Dome Theater Student Internship Fund
David DeBruyn’s lifelong interest in astronomy began at a very early age, and he credits his work as a student planetarium operator at the Exhibit Museum (former name of theU-M Museum of Natural History) for helping him pursue his life passion and setting him on his career path.
In order to provide opportunities for students with similar interests, DeBruyn has established the David L. DeBruyn Digital Dome Theater Student Internship Fund at the new U-M Museum of Natural History, scheduled to open in 2019.
“This seemed like an appropriate opportunity for me to give back to an institution for which I still have fond affection, and also to share with future generations my passion for planetarium work,” said DeBruyn.“I hope that this gift provides ongoing support and can be built on over time.”
Following his graduation from U-M in 1963, DeBruyn was hired as the Chief Curator of the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, where he served for close to 40 years. Although “officially” retired for more than a decade, he remains active in the Great Lakes Planetarium Association (which he co-founded), and as president of the Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Association. He has written regular astronomy articles for the Grand Rapids Press for more than 50 years.
“Formal educational opportunities for a planetarium career are limited,” said Matthew Linke, UMMNH Planetarium Manager. “The DeBruyn Internship will help fill the need by providing a unique experience to learn about the operation of a planetarium.”
Amy Harris Director's Strategic Fund
For more than 20 years, Amy Harris has been committed to the UMMNH. This has never been more apparent than during the planning and development of the new Museum project. To recognize her tireless efforts, the Museum's advisory board, colleagues, and personal friends have established the Amy Harris Director's Strategic Fund. To date, this endowment totals more than $36,000 in donations and pledges.
Amy and future Museum directors will determine how the funds will be used to further the mission of the Museum of Natural History. The endowment and annual revenue will grow over time and be used in perpetuity for Museum priorities.
Larsen Family Exhibit Fund
As a child, Andrea Larsen Scott’s parents and brother were avid “rock hounds” who enjoyed hunting fossils and minerals throughout the State of Michigan. Andrea recalls many vacations and day trips that centered around her family’s passion. And while her family hunted, Andrea enjoyed sitting in the car, reading her books.
So when Andrea donated $50,000 to establish The Larsen Family Exhibit Endowment Fund at the U-M Museum of Natural History, she wanted her gift to support geology with an emphasis on Michigan rocks and minerals to honor her family’s avocation. Her gift will support a changing exhibit of mineral specimens which will be displayed in the new Museum when it opens in 2019. “I have such fond memories of visiting the Museum as a child, and as a Michigan student,” said Andrea.“I'm thrilled to make this gift in honor of my family.”
With her gift, Andrea ensures that future generations of Museum visitors will have the opportunity to see and learn about the geologic treasures that were so loved by her parents and brother.
Museum staff and U-M scientists are already planning exhibits for the new Museum to present U-M’s world-class mineral collections with the latest scientific information, and The Larsen Family Exhibit Endowment will provide greater flexibility for changing and updating the exhibits.
"Andrea has graciously given her time, expertise and friendship as the Chair of our Board of Advisors. This generous gift will ensure that her love of the Museum is shared with visitors of all ages for years to come," said Amy Harris, Museum director. "We can't thank her enough for her generosity."
Dr. Eileen Starr Hands-On Science Fund
During her freshman orientation in 1958, general science major Eileen Starr discovered the “Exhibit Museum,” and immediately asked for a job. The only student position that offered enough hours was as a student operator of the soon-to-be installed Spitz A-1 planetarium. She accepted it and became the Museum’s first student planetarium operator.
Eileen credits her tenure as a U-M Museum of Natural History student docent for directing her life course, which included working as either a planetarium director or a teacher of Earth Science classes in cities across the country.
Nearly 60 years later, Eileen recognized her life in science by establishing an endowment fund to support hands-on science learning opportunities at the Museum, in perpetuity.
The Dr. Eileen Starr Hands-On Science Fund will be used to cover expenses specifically related to providing opportunities for U-M undergraduate students to develop and facilitate hands-on science experiences for Museum visitors and program participants.
“I established this fund so that students can better learn how to create successful hands-on science activities for when they are teachers, or when they become parents,” Eileen said. “As a teacher and past science center director, I know hands-on activities are not always easy to create. The more practice, the better.”