Michael Chappell and Betty Brown-Chappell

For EMU Foundation Trustee, Betty Brown-Chappell, and her husband, Michael Chappell (BS70), giving has become essential in their family. The couple both had very different experiences with Eastern Michigan, yet their shared mission of giving back to the University that gave them so much is what makes the two a charitable force to be reckoned with.

Michael’s EMU experience began when he transferred to the University from a community college in Lansing. As an active fraternity member of Alpha Phi Alpha and a Psychology student, his day-to-day life looked like many others’. When Michael got to his last semester of college, however, he did not have the funds to pay for his final two classes—a problem many students continue to face today.

After evaluating all of his options, Michael applied for a loan on campus. At the financial aid office, he was notified that he had received a scholarship covering his last semester’s tuition. “It really made the difference,” Michael shared. 

Betty’s story with Eastern Michigan is very different. She completed a doctorate at the University of Chicago, and after which came to EMU as a faculty member. Ultimately, she became the Assistant Director for the EMU’s Honors College, and is now a member of the EMU Foundation Board of Trustees. Betty admires the pluck and determination of EMU students. Working with so many outstanding students is what made her fall in love with the University.  

“The EMU Honors students and McNair scholars are astonishing,” she explained. “Some of these students are working multiple jobs, caring for a family, and continuing to get straight A’s and perform their McNair scholarship duties.”

Although Betty and Michael’s EMU journeys began in separate places, both share a strong commonality regarding the University— their desire to give back in a meaningful way.  

“Many students at Eastern have extraordinary promise to society, yet they don’t have their basic needs covered,” Betty shared. “It’s just not right.”

Betty and Michael both give because they appreciate and know the value of what was given to them. “The only way we are able to repay those who helped us is to pass help on to others,” Michael said.

The couple now has their own endowed scholarship, the Brown-Chappell Honors Student Endowed Scholarship. After starting the scholarship, Betty asked her friends and family to, instead of giving her gifts, donate to the scholarship during holidays and on her birthday. Today, Betty and Michael’s children also embrace the culture of giving. Every year around the holiday season, they share the charitable gifts they’ve made and how they’ve impacted their community instead of exchanging presents.

“We were able to pass on our thirst for social justice to our children,” Michael said. “That is one of the greatest things we could have done.”

Reading the applications of students and learning about how incredible our student body is solidified their dedication to helping current and future students. “The first time I ever read scholarship applications, I was blown away by the talent of the people applying,” Michael said. “EMU students deserve more than the little we can give them, they deserve a full tuition scholarship!”

One of the goals for the Brown-Chappell Honors Student Endowed Scholarship is for it to grow into a full tuition scholarship. Students who are awarded this scholarship read Betty’s memoir, Open Secrets: A Poor Person’s Life in Higher Education , and then meet with the couple for lunch!

“We are able to meet with the recipients every year, and they get to tell us their story,” Betty explained. “It is our Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day— everything all wrapped into one! It’s our favorite day.”

The family is welcoming any additional funds to the Brown-Chappell Honors Student Endowed Scholarship to help ease the burden of tuition for Honors students. For more information on how to give or start your own scholarship, email [email protected].