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Oct. 6 , 2004
CONTACT: Ward Mullens

Brehm family establishes $1 million endowed scholarship in special education

YPSILANTIEastern Michigan University alumna Delores (Soderquist) Brehm (’52) and her husband, William, are donating $1 million to EMU to establish an endowed scholarship in special education.

The Brehms have donated $500,000 to date and have pledged an additional $500,000 over the next two years. 

“A scholarship, though seemingly small by today’s standards, made it possible for me to attend EMU. We want to give other students the same opportunity,” Mrs. Brehm said.

            “The Brehms’ gesture speaks directly to the quality of the EMU special education program and to the type of experience students have here and the success they have after they leave,” said Craig Willis, interim president of EMU.

            “This gift will help us continue to attract the top students who want to be special education teachers,” said Alane Starko, interim dean of EMU’s College of Education. “The endowment will provide tuition support for students studying primarily in the area of cognitive impairment.”

“We are thankful that Dee, through her personal generosity and caring spirit, has committed to this legacy gift. This will honor worthy and deserving students at EMU forever,” said Stuart Starner, vice president for advancement and executive director, EMU Foundation.

Dee Soderquist graduated from EMU with a major in special education-mentally impaired and a minor in English. As an undergraduate, she was a member of Kappa Delta Pi and Theta Lambda Sigma, and a member of the Choral Union.

Soderquist married William Brehm in 1952, two weeks after she graduated from EMU. The couple honeymooned on the way to San Diego, where she began her teaching career and he joined the aerospace industry. Mrs. Brehm taught special needs children at the Midway Elementary School in San Diego, then left teaching to devote her time to their children, Eric Brehm and Lisa Brehm Ellis. When Bill joined the Defense Department and the family moved to Virginia in 1964, Dee became active in the Virginia Women’s Club. As president, she made Head Start one of the club’s main focuses, thus continuing her interest in children and education.

Bill, a native of Dearborn, received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics from the University of Michigan and pursued a successful career in business, government, and public service. He served as assistant secretary of the Army under Presidents Johnson and Nixon, and later as assistant secretary of defense under Presidents Nixon and Ford. He is chairman emeritus of SRA International, an information technology provider to government and industry, and continues to be active in public service.


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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