By Angelina Persaud and Mary Haley, Asst. News Editor & Staff Writer
The School of Science has received a $15 million donation from Aimee and Michael Kakos ‘58 and is being formally renamed to the Kakos School of Science to honor the donors.
The gift will be divided into various categories and used to support a wide range of learning and research opportunities for students and faculty. Namely, it aims to enhance the educational opportunities available to students pursuing an undergraduate STEM degree. The donation will also help to cover certain expenses to update facilities and lab equipment.
According to manhattan.edu, “The gift will provide needs-based academic scholarships for students…scholarships for students to study abroad and the funds to support the research and scientific discovery interests of undergraduate students. It will provide grants to support innovative academic and research ideas, projects within the School of Science.”
Michael Kakos earned his bachelor of science degree in chemistry from MC in 1958. He was later awarded a fellowship at Niagara University where he earned his master of science degree in chemistry as well. Following this fellowship, he earned a master of science in industrial engineering from the Stevens Institute of Technology.
Further, according to manhattan.edu, he earned several foreign and domestic patents in sales and marketing. He spent time traveling before moving to London, where he settled for over four decades.
Kakos also founded Resin Express in 1987, which supplied engineering thermoplastic raw materials to major consumers. Eventually in 1997, the Kakos’ sold the company and focused more on their philanthropic efforts to education and their respective alma maters.
Kevin Courtney, the director of capital campaign at Manhattan College, oversees the donation process and monetary contributions alumni make to the college. Courtney spoke on his collaboration with the Kakos’ and managing the donation.
“Over the course of the years I have been running the campaign, [the Kakos’] have been involved in the campaign with a number of different projects that they’ve been funding and an endowed chair of science,” Courtney said. “They really want to encourage students to take advantage of study abroad opportunities…because they’ve [lived] internationally for so many years.”
Marcy Peteroy-Kelly, Ph.D., dean of the School of Science, spoke on what this donation represents for the School of Science, and the vision she has planned for the Kakos School of Science in five years.
“I am elated to have this support as we attempt to grow our school,” Peteroy-Kelly wrote in an email to The Quadrangle. “[In five years], the Kakos School of Science [will be] a vibrant community of student and faculty scholars working together to advance cutting-edge research, teaching and learning. Funding from the Kakos’ will help us obtain our vision.”
Peteroy-Kelly also provided guidance for students who wish to take advantage of these funding opportunities.
“Students should reach out to faculty who work on projects they are interested in to see if they have open research positions for the summer,” Peteroy-Kelly wrote.
Tahiya Azad, a sophomore computer science major in the School of Science, explained how this donation will open up multiple opportunities for students in the school of science.
“There’s a lot of research projects that students participate in over the summer, and we see that this funding will help them do more research and grow more academically and financially,” Azad said.
Azad also spoke on her personal experience with research opportunities.
“Last semester I went to my professor about doing research projects, and they said no, they already had five students and they cannot take more than five…but now I’m thinking, with this funding, they can give [more people] a chance to do research with them,” Azad said.
Fiona Galvin, a freshman biology major in the School of Science, spoke about her experience as a student and the impact she hopes to see as a result of the donation.
“I feel it’s a good opportunity, especially for clubs because I’m in the biology club, and we’re not really heavily funded. This new funding, I feel like we can go on more field trips [and have] more community building,” Galvin said.
She also emphasized her desire to pursue research opportunities with the Jasper Summer Research Scholars in the future. The funding of student research opportunities is one of the core allocations of the Kakos’ donation.
“I’m very interested in learning about new topics because I recently went to the science research scholars presentation, and I was looking at the presentations, and they’re really very in depth. And I want to be able to have that kind of knowledge,” Galvin said.
The Kakos’ have a long-held history of philanthropy and supporting education through various channels, including scholarships and other monetary donations.
According to manhattan.edu, the Kakos’ have funded the Michael and Aimee Rusinko Kakos Study Abroad Scholarship and the Endowed Scholarship for Cardinal Hayes High School. They have also initiated the naming of the Kakos’ Center for Scientific Computing in Hayden Hall at MC and have a site in Kelly Commons dedicated to their names.
The Kakos’ top priority for their donation is so that it can be used to give back to the Manhattan College community and aim for excellence in the school.
Michael Kakos specified these means in his speech from Thursday, Oct. 20, during the dedication ceremony for the renaming of the School of Science.
“Our philanthropy at Manhattan College continues to target scholarship aid for young, worthy students of modest means, resources to support and strengthen excellence in teaching and learning and research enhanced facilities to better prepare graduates for the technology-driven workplace of today and tomorrow,” Kakos said.
Kakos also shared the sentiment about the personal connection he’s felt to the college and the hope he sees in the future of the college and School of Science.
“Manhattan College has been the educational love of my life. It is our pleasure to give back to Manhattan College where I received my college education, and I consider it the most valuable thing that I own. The ‘Aimee and Michael Kakos ’58 School of Science at Manhattan College’ is our legacy. May all of its future students be inspired by the dedicated administration,faculty, and staff which is the hallmark of this great institution,” Kakos wrote in an email to The Quadrangle.