Donor spotlight: Gary and Kathy Armstrong

Gary Armstrong ’66 B.S., ’68 M.B.A., and Kathy Armstrong ’68 B.S. attribute much of their professional success to the skills they learned at Wayne State University, and they believe other people do as well. That’s why the Armstrongs have offered up a bold challenge to the School of Business' alumni and friends—establish a new endowed fund of $25,000 or more for business students, or make a gift of any amount to their previously-established Armstrong Scholarship, and the couple will make a new gift, dollar-for-dollar, to their scholarship, up to a total of $100,000.

"Kathy and I feel fortunate that we had a world-class university like Wayne State so accessible and so affordable," Gary Armstrong says. "We want to make those same opportunities available to future students, and we want to encourage others to do the same."

The Armstrongs issued the challenge in March 2014, as part of their overall vision to support business students. Their motivation was to encourage fellow alumni to help increase the number of scholarships at the School of Business. Their challenge has proved successful. Three new endowed funds have been established as a result of the challenge, and the Armstrongs have matched the funds with an additional $100,000 gift to their scholarship.

The first gift was made by Randy Paschke, director of external relations and community engagement at the School of Business. Paschke, who served as chair of accounting in the School of Business for 10 years, was inspired to endow his scholarship for accounting students after learning of the Armstrongs’ passion for increasing scholarship dollars.

Dr. Timothy Butler, associate professor of global supply chain management, and Beverly Butler also were inspired by the Armstrongs to make an endowed gift to the School of Business to benefit study abroad programs for business students. The gift was made in memory of the couple’s daughter, Rebecca Butler.

"I think it’s great that a former student, who is now a professor, extended this challenge," Timothy Butler says of Gary Armstrong, who is a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. "And now I’m a professor accepting the challenge."

The final gift was made by alumnus James Butts ’79 B.A. Butts endowed the scholarship in honor of his late mother, Helen M. Butts ’40 B.A., an alumna of the College of Education. The gift, which will benefit business students, completed the Armstrongs’ $100,000 challenge.

With the challenge fulfilled, the Armstrongs look forward to seeing the impact. The couple is confident that Wayne State students will continue to graduate and make their mark as business leaders in Detroit and beyond. And empowered by their support, the students are up for this challenge too.

"I will never forget the Armstrongs’ wonderful gesture of generosity and kindness," says Julian Sandoval ’13 B.A., one of 18 former and current Armstrong Scholarship recipients. "I will do all I can to be successful and worthy of their investment."

What is an endowed scholarship?

An endowed scholarship is one that exists forever, providing support for Wayne State University students. To qualify as an endowed fund, scholarship gifts must be for $25,000 or greater. Endowed funds at Wayne State have an invested principal that is never spent. The principal earns income that is distributed to a spending account, which supports student scholarships in perpetuity.

School of Business by the numbers

  • $13,000—annual cost of tuition for a full-time SBA student
  • 80 percent—number of students who receive some type of financial assistance
  • 72—number of scholarships provided by SBA annually
  • $2,300—average SBA scholarship award per student