Couple’s Planned Gift Inspired by Love of Music and MSU Students

“It just seems like the best way to use our resources to help others.” That is how Irene and J. Sumner Bagby, members of the Kedzie Society and Landon Society, describe their ongoing philanthropic commitments to Michigan State University. As they were planning their latest gifts, they explored a number of programs and colleges, looking for areas that matched their interests, and where they thought their gifts might have a significant impact. Both Irene and Sumner have always enjoyed music, with rock ‘n roll being their earliest musical favorite. But Sumner’s mother, a founder of the Sarasota Opera in Florida, introduced them to opera and began to broaden their musical tastes. In fact, Sumner now serves on the Board of the Sarasota Opera. While neither performs musically, their love of music has only grown over the years.

Sumner and Irene have shared their Spartan spirit since they were introduced to each other by fellow Spartans at a wedding on Mackinac Island. Over the years, they have supported a number of colleges and programs on campus with generous gifts.

When asked why they chose to direct their gift to scholarships, specifically their new Endowed Scholarship/Fellowship in the College of Music, rather than programs or facilities, Irene replied, “Kids need to be helped!” A retired teacher, daughter of a professor and granddaughter of a teacher, Irene understands the importance of direct support to students. She and Sumner had families helping them when they were students, and they want our students to be able to complete their education without the burden of crippling student load debt. She added, “We just like the idea of helping people.”

Should you wish to learn more about establishing a named endowed scholarship in the College of Music, please contact Director of Development Rebecca Surian at or at 517-353-9872.

See Campaign in Action

Topics filed under:

Share this: