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100 First Gifts for 100 Years

New donors show their support for the Fund for Excellence


In recognition of our centennial, we are celebrating the impact of the school’s annual fund, the Fund for Excellence, with a goal to recruit 100 new donors to the fund. The fund is the school's most flexible resource, providing aid for students and other needs whenever they arise. This past year, the Fund for Excellence provided critical emergency support to students who faced challenges due to the pandemic. Gifts counting toward the goal can be of any amount, made at any time during the centennial year.

To help propel us toward this ambitious goal, Linda (ABEd ’59, TeachCert ’59) and Martin Frank (AB ’58)—loyal donors who have supported the Fund for Excellence nearly every year since 1986―matched all gifts up to $5,000 from first-time donors to the fund during Giving Blueday. Giving Blueday is the university’s annual day of giving. March 10, 2021 marked the seventh year Giving Blueday has encouraged U-M donors to support their favorite schools, colleges, and projects.

On Giving Blueday 2021, 16 donors made their first gift to the Fund for Excellence, totaling $6,810. These donors helped us make the most out of the Franks’ match and brought us closer to our goal of 100 new donors.

Dr. Ruby Siddiqui and Dr. Salim Siddiqui with their two daughters, Saira (14 years old) and Noor (8 years old)

One of the families who made a generous gift on Giving Blueday—their first gift to the fund—was Dr. Ruby Siddiqui (PhD ’20) and her husband Dr. Salim Siddiqui. Siddiqui, who had been an administrator at Temple University before attending the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education, says of the recent donation, “My gift represents an opportunity to pay forward the benefit I received from my Dissertation Finishing Grant. My husband and I enjoy giving to provide others with such opportunities and with the generous matching gift for first-time donors, we felt this was a great way for us to double the impact of our gift.”

Siddiqui is grateful for more than the grant that supported her dissertation work: she also credits the faculty, staff, and her classmates for making her Michigan experience meaningful. “I was fortunate to have Dr. Patricia King as the chair of my dissertation committee. As a profound mentor, she provided excellent feedback and continuous support throughout my doctoral program,” she says, adding faculty members Dr. Janet Lawrence, Dr. Simone Himbeault Taylor, Dr. John Schulenberg, and staff members Melinda Richardson and Linda Rayle to the long list of individuals she recognizes as instrumental to her success in the program.

Siddiqui adds, “Beyond the exceptional faculty, my amazing doctoral cohort provided—and continues to provide—personal, academic, and professional support. As people say, ‘It takes a village,’ and I can’t begin to name everyone, but there are so many individuals throughout U-M that supported me as a graduate student and I’m eternally grateful for all of these individuals, opportunities, and experiences.”

Each gift has its own “origin story,” but gratitude is the inspiration for many of them. So far this calendar year, 30 donors have made their first gift to the Fund for Excellence, with donations totaling $13,665.

The Siddiqui family proudly joins in the efforts of the SOE to improve the world through education. Siddiqui says, “As education is the only hope for the continued growth of our society and civilizations, I hope that SOE continues to engage in vital research and dialogue that affects K-12 and higher education. U-M has always been and should continue to be a leader in education. I think philanthropy will play an important role in order to continue to make this aspiration a reality and to allow alumni like myself to contribute to that vision.”

Donate to the Fund for Excellence: myumi.ch/soe-excellence

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