Alumni donate to Colleges of Health Sciences and Engineering


The McShanes’ donation to the College of Health Sciences will go toward mental health research. Graphic by Jenny Whidden.

Kelly and John McShane, alumni who graduated in 1968, recently made two separate donations of $1 million each to the Colleges of Health Sciences and Engineering.

The money donated to the College of Health Sciences will focus on mental health research, while the money donated to the College of Engineering will allow for more comprehensive academic support.

“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,” University President Michael Lovell said in a statement.

The McShanes have given back to Marquette before. Kelly has a position as a member of the board of trustees, and the couple endowed the McShane Chair in Construction Engineering, an engineering professor position permanently paid for by the endowment.

The first Dean’s Endowed Research Fund was established with the McShanes’ donation to the College of Health Sciences. The fund will support research projects aimed at understanding the underlying causes of mental health disorders, most notably depression, William Cullinan, the dean of the College of Health Sciences, said.

The college currently has 14 neuroscientists researching and studying mechanisms of neuropsychiatric diseases, Cullinan said. The long-term goal is to turn these findings into new treatments.

“A good example of this is Marquette’s first-ever pharmaceutical start-up company, called Promentis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., that emerged from this group of scientists. The company has generated over $30 million in investment funding and currently has an investigational new drug in FDA phase I clinical trials,” Cullinan said.

Danielle Videtich, a freshman in the College of Health Sciences, said she thinks the donations are going toward relevant issues.

“I think it is great that money is being put to finding treatments for mental disorders such as depression, especially on a college campus where mental health (illnesses) are common and not talked enough about,” she said.

Cullinan said the donation will pave the way for further research.

“Funding from the McShane gift will launch novel, innovative lines of research that will enable us to better understand what causes these brain illnesses, as well as generate new approaches to treating them,” Cullinan said.

Kristina Ropella, the dean of the College of Engineering, said this donation “will allow us to provide an extra layer of engineering-specific academic support through our Engineering Student Success Center.”

Students will be offered peer-to-peer tutoring, academic advising support and information sessions on course-specific success tips.

“Even the visibility of the Engineering Student Success Center allows students to see the constant activity inside and understand that it is okay – and encouraged – to seek support when needed,” Ropella said.