Donald W. Seaton Endowed Scholarship Fund
The Seaton family believes in giving back, especially if it can help someone get an excellent education. When their father Donald passed away in 1975, the Seaton children (Ken, Sandra and Bob) decided to use their inheritance to help others succeed. Since then, they’ve awarded 43 scholarships to Michigan Tech business students—one per year. Ken ‘51, Bob ‘52 and Sandra Michel (‘57 graduate of Standford University) are confident their father would approve. Bob says, “Our dad was a strong businessman. He was in the savings and loan business, but never went to college. He was born in the British Isles and only went through the eighth grade in their system.” After emigrating to the US, he married a teacher, and made college a priority for his children.
Although the brothers both earned civil engineering degrees from Tech, both followed in their father’s footsteps and ended up in the savings and loan business. Ken, who lives in Houghton, worked at Detroit and Northern Bank until his retirement in 1992. Bob, a resident of Willoughby, Ohio, was with a firm in California until he retired in 1994. Sandra lives in Wilmington, DE and is active in a poetry society. The family cherishes their Copper Country roots. Although Bob misses the UP, he returns nearly every summer for a visit. While Ken, who stayed local, gets to drive by Tech’s campus every day.
"We have fond memories and loyalty to Tech. It seemed to us there was no better place to put our money than to support the education of someone who to go into the business world."
Each year, the Seaton family’s scholarship is awarded to a business student who has shown above average capabilities and leadership, and has demonstrated financial need. The family agrees that the key to having a real impact is consistency—to make it available every year. They believe it’s very important to make financial support available to those who need it, and encourage others to consider how they might have a similar impact. In their view, the simplest way to do that is to contribute to MTU, which can pool the money to create a fund from which scholarships are drawn. Bob says, “When we and others give annually to that fund, the amount of money available to give grows. In time, it becomes a very meaningful legacy for us to leave for the future.”
Bob recently heard from a scholarship recipient, a mother with several children, who graduated this past spring. She said she would not have been able to finish her degree without the Seatons’ financial assistance. That’s all the reward Ken, Sandra and Bob need. Ken notes, “People who were successful coming out of the institution should give back to benefit those who struggle to get through. The greatest reward is receiving letters like this—it definitely makes it worthwhile.”
The Hartley/Dobson Family Annual Scholarship Fund
For two generations, Michigan Tech has played a prominent role in the lives of the Hartley and Dobson families. David Hartley ’71, his son Bill ’08, his daughter Caitlin Dobson ’10, and her husband, Drew ’10 are all MTU graduates. David was a Michigan Tech Trust Fund trustee for 20 years, serving as president for two. He’s currently a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council, the McNair Society, and the 1885 Society.
Caitlin and Drew met at Michigan Tech, where both were student athletes with Caitlin studying in the School of Business and Economics. Drew, a computer science major, received a full-ride scholarship for hockey; Caitlin qualified as a walk-on athlete in tennis. The family is very grateful for the opportunities they had at MTU. David explains, “We think the world of Michigan Tech. I’m very impressed that Tech has a 92 percent job placement rate for undergraduates. Tech’s degrees allow you to hit the ground running when you graduate. Our daughter Caitlin, got a job four weeks after graduation and she’s still with the same company. Now we want to help others succeed.”
"We're trying to create a legacy. Sitting on the board you see the major contributions come in that go to buildings and big projects, which are great—we need that. But we also want to do something for the students."
Since 2017, the family has done just that, through the Hartley/Dobson Family Annual Scholarship Fund. The fund provides a scholarship for first-year walk-on athletes in the School of Business and Economics. Because they’ve seen firsthand the hard work required of student athletes, they wish to help lighten the load. Last year David and his wife Mary Ellen awarded a scholarship to one student. With the rest of the family now on board, the fund is growing, so they plan to award more scholarships in the years ahead. They hope recipients will prove themselves academically and athletically so they might be eligible for scholarships from MTU after their first year.
Although she now lives in Texas, Caitlin is happy to be a part of the family tradition. She notes, “It’s rewarding to give back and help someone out. I’d encourage others who are in a position to do something like this to go for it. The Michigan Tech community is truly a gem. Unless you go and see the UP for yourself, you don’t know how beautiful, special and unique it is. People who go to Michigan Tech understand. It’s just a different feeling up there than anywhere else.”
Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.