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Feb. 5, 2008
CONTACT: Ward Mullens
wmullens@emich.edu 734.487.4400

EMU receives largest estate gift in school history

YPSILANTI — Eastern Michigan University has received $2.2 million from the trust of renown sculptor and potter Jean Noble Parsons (1929-2000).

The estate gift is the largest of its kind in the history of EMU.

“This is a historic moment for EMU,” said Donald M. Loppnow, provost and executive vice president of EMU. “It is a true testament to the learning environment we have and the education our students receive. Jean Noble Parsons had no affiliation with EMU, yet we received this gift because of the quality and collaborative nature of our academic programming in art, biology and psychology, and the faculty who teach in those areas.”

The trust includes $1.75 million in cash and $489,000 in property. The Parsons’ trustees solicited proposals following her death to establish a center in her name.

“The transfer of the trust is the culmination of seven years of hard work and planning to realize Ms. Parsons’ vision,” Loppnow said.

EMU will use the gift to establish the Jean Noble Parsons Center for the Study of Art and Science on 86 wooded acres near Traverse City and Interlochen. Programming for the center will maintain the natural state of the land and will be designed to foster interdisciplinary exchanges between artists and scientists.

According to the trust, Parsons outlined five activities to be accomplished with the money:

• establishment of a research center and wildlife sanctuary,

• an integrated artistic and scientific program for graduate students,

• use of the dwelling and property for intellectual discussion by researchers, professors and scientists,

• nature walks for observation and identification of flora and fauna,

• and public seminars on a range of artistic, environmental and spiritual topics.

Jean Noble Parson received a Fulbright Scholarship in 1958. She studied ceramics in Denmark and was mentored by renowned potter Richard Kjaerdgaard. As part of her scholarship year, Parsons visited factories, art schools, potteries and practicing masters in Denmark, England, Finland and Sweden. She returned to the United States and continued individual research at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan.

In 1962, Parsons became a charter faculty member of the Interlochen Arts Academy and chair of the Visual Arts Division. During her 38 years at Interlochen, she taught many talented students and had two who became Presidential Scholars in the Arts, a prestigious national honor recognizing her as an outstanding instructor by The White House.


Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.

Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.

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