Finding Synergy With MSU
Paul Bishop couldn't sleep. The year was 2009, and he'd just returned home to Kirkland, Washington, from Ethiopia, Africa, where he had inspected water sites with a group from his Rotary Club.
It was the second time Paul ('67, Social Science; '72, Law) had traveled to Africa since retiring from a career in trust management and private law practice. Now, things weren't adding up.
"I had seen a deep, deep warmth in the people in Africa," he recalls. "Their smiles are so genuine. When they greet each other, there's true joy and laughter and spontaneity."
But he had also seen broken down wells and heard stories of children who had died after drinking contaminated water.
"I couldn't forget the beauty of the people, and I couldn't forget their condition," he says.
Paul, who has spent most of his adult life in the Pacific Northwest, had donated to MSU for decades. A few years ago, Paul and his wife, Barbara, also provided a generous future gift to MSU through a charitable bequest in their estate plans.
"The Development office never prodded," he says. "But when I showed a particular interest, they would always follow up and help me focus on an area that fit."
When he mentioned Africa to Sarah Blom, Michigan State University executive director of individual giving, she connected him with leadership for the university's Tanzania Partnership Project (TPP). He listened as students described working alongside students from the University of Tanzania. He liked the program's focus on water and collaboration.
"They listen and build trust," he says. "They equip people and empower them to take responsibility for building the wells and maintaining them."
The Paul Bishop and Barbara Pendras Family Endowment for Developing Countries will support the TPP's worldwide initiatives in safe water, health, sanitation, hygiene or education in developing countries, starting with Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia.
"It was a total fit," Paul says. "It takes my focus on water, sanitation and Africa, and combines it with my love for MSU—and they have the synergy to make it happen."