Alumni couple donates $2 million to grow mental health research and launch engineering student success center

April 18, 2018

MILWAUKEE — Marquette students and faculty now have heightened research and support resources thanks to the generosity of alumni Jim and Kelly McShane. The McShanes, both of whom graduated from Marquette in 1968, made two specific $1 million gifts focused on mental health research in the College of Health Sciences and on the development of more comprehensive academic support within the Opus College of Engineering.

"We are incredibly grateful to the McShane family for these major gifts that will significantly enhance the student experience and drive life-changing research forward," said President Michael R. Lovell. "We are called to transform the lives of our students and address our society's most pressing problems, and these generous gifts will allow us to do exactly that."

Kelly and Jim McShane

For the McShanes, the gifts mark another step in their strong journey of engagement with Marquette — one that includes Kelly's leadership as a current member on the Board of Trustees and their endowment of the McShane Chair in Construction Engineering.

Jim and Kelly talked about how they were inspired to give back to their alma mater: "Improving the student and Ignatian experience across campus means a great deal to us because Marquette has given so much to us in our lives."

'Shattering the stigma of mental illness'
Marquette's College of Health Sciences is at the forefront of mental health neuroscience research, focused on finding underlying causes of mental illness. Dean William Cullinan said the McShanes' gift will establish the college's first Dean's Endowed Research Fund with special consideration given to mental health research.

"This gift is so significant because it will allow us to perpetually invest in research and continue our important work to shatter the stigma of mental illness," Cullinan said.

Over the past decade, Marquette faculty scholars have advanced research on biological treatments and the underlying biological bases of diseases like depression. In 2015, the college established the Charles E. Kubly Mental Health Research Center to proactively investigate the devastating disease.

Student success center in the Opus College of Engineering
Part of the McShanes' gift also establishes a center for student success in the Opus College of Engineering — an area Opus Dean Kris Ropella identified as having the most impact for students and the college. The center will include renovation of a physical space for support services, technology and operating upgrades, advising staff and peer tutors, plus the opportunity to offer students extended support outside of traditional office times or business hours.

"All of our students, and especially our first-generation students, will truly benefit from an extra layer of intentional support to ensure they thrive when they arrive on campus," Ropella said.

Marquette graduates about 300 engineers per year, ranging in expertise from biomedical and civil construction to electrical, computer and mechanical engineering. The Opus College of Engineering has enrolled a growing population of students who are the first in their families to attend college.

The collective impact of the McShanes' gifts empowers Marquette to teach students who become men and women for and with others and who go out to Be the Difference in our world.