Notice: Access to Special Collections material, the Reading Room, and Instruction will temporarily be suspended starting on Aug.12, 2024 as the collection will be moved from the basement to 3 East. Normal operations are anticipated to resume late in the semester. Read more for current updates.
Notice: Access to Special Collections material, the Reading Room, and Instruction will temporarily be suspended starting on Aug.12, 2024 as the collection will be moved from the basement to 3 East. Normal operations are anticipated to resume late in the semester. Read more for current updates.
Notice: Maintenance affecting the library catalog will occur on July 26-29. The catalog will be available except for newly added e-resources, which will not appear until after the maintenance is completed and the backlog of changes can be delivered - possibly 10 days. In addition, renewals and changes to circulation status will not be visible in the EDS interface during this time.
Notice: Maintenance affecting the library catalog will occur on July 26-29. The catalog will be available except for newly added e-resources, which will not appear until after the maintenance is completed and the backlog of changes can be delivered - possibly 10 days. In addition, renewals and changes to circulation status will not be visible in the EDS interface during this time.
Notice: Due to ongoing construction, 4 East is currently closed to the public.  To obtain items located on 4 East, please place an online request for the item to be paged for you using the ‘Place Request’ button in the catalog. Please visit our Circulation FAQ page for assistance in using our catalog.
Notice: Due to ongoing construction, 4 East is currently closed to the public.  To obtain items located on 4 East, please place an online request for the item to be paged for you using the ‘Place Request’ button in the catalog. Please visit our Circulation FAQ page for assistance in using our catalog.

Supporting Students: MSU Alumni Kim and Jude Swanson Give Back to Libraries and Honors College

Kim and Jude Swanson
Photo courtesy of Kim and Jude Swanson, pictured here.

Like many incoming first-year Michigan State University students, Kim and Jude Swanson met at the summer orientation program. This was in 1963, and it was the second time Kim had left the Upper Peninsula, where he’d grown up in Ishpeming. The first time he’d crossed over the Mackinac Bridge had actually been to complete a test for a scholarship that he won, which would bring him downstate to attend MSU. Judith Ann McPherson was at orientation as an incoming freshman from the village of Millington. The day after they met saw them canoeing down the Red Cedar River with a friend that had also come down from the UP with Kim to attend MSU, and a good portion of the remaining orientation week was spent together as well. They reconnected in the fall over Coca-Colas and french fries at the MSU Union, where Kim recalls bumping into his all-time favorite football player at MSU, Charles Aaron “Bubba” Smith. 

Kim and Jude’s friendship grew stronger through the first half of the academic year, and by the second half they had started officially dating. By the end of their first year, Kim had secured a position as a resident’s assistant in the dorms, and Judith was hired into the Science Library at MSU Libraries, eventually becoming a periodical specialist. According to Kim, during the time they were students, they both had to work to support themselves. They did, however,make a point of saving money every semester so they could treat themselves to a meal at the high-end dining establishment Schuler’s Restaurant & Pub in Marshall, Michigan, about an hour’s drive from East Lansing. At that time, Kim said, their bills usually came out to around $20. He added that more often than not, Jude had more money to bring to the table than Kim since she was receiving checks from her work at the Libraries and Kim was being paid as a resident’s assistant in room and board. Luckily, dining out became a pastime the couple still enjoys today, which meant Kim had ample opportunity to treat Jude in exchange for paying for him as undergrads. By their senior year, Kim had moved out of the dorms and into Cedar Village Apartments with three other roommates, and he was working as an undergraduate assistant for the American Thought and Language department while also doing work “washing pots and pans” in the Abbot Hall cafeteria.   

“While both Jude and I had to work to defray the expenses of our education, we were both fortunate enough to obtain jobs that were of benefit to us throughout our later lives,” Kim said. “As a resident assistant at East Shaw Hall, I had an opportunity to become involved in the most basic level of university administration, enforcing the rules and regulations of the dorm system in real time with the students, many of whom were away from home for the first time.The experiences I had and the opportunity to work with young people from varying backgrounds in dealing with all the issues that arise in a communal living situation prepared me well for a career of dealing with clients during my years of practicing law. Jude’s experience working at the library also provided her with the opportunity to explore areas of study she might not have known existed, learning organizational skills and dealing with many people with differing backgrounds and interests. Our on-the-job education was just as valuable as our formal class work and helped both of us to mature and become ready for life after MSU, which is why we want to make sure today’s students have that same opportunity while earning some money to help finance their education.”​   

Kim and Jude both graduated from MSU’s Honors College in 1967. After graduation, Kim, who received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the College of Social Science,went on to the University of Michigan Law School, while Jude took her bachelor’s in advertising from the College of Communication Arts and Sciences to work in Detroit. There she encountereda lack of open positions due to the effects of the newspaper and automobile strikes. Jude eventually found herself at the University of Michigan Library in Ann Arbor, where she had been encouraged to apply because of her background at the MSU Libraries. She spent several years as an alphabetizing specialist, which consisted of sorting catalog cards in preparation for the typist. Jude said that she later found out that her father’s first job out of college also involved indexing for the Social Security Administration, and that the profession “might have been genetic.”   

The couple married in May of 1968 after Kim’s first year of law school. He recalls that “on the 13th of October that year, we received two pieces of mail. One of which was our tickets for the fifth game of the World Series, Detroit against St. Louis, and the other of which was my invitation to join the United States Army.” Kim was able to complete his first semester of his second year of law school before he was inducted into the U.S. Army in January of 1969. The couple spent the next two years in Louisville, Kentucky, before Kim was able to return to law school. He graduated in 1972, at which point the couple moved to Columbus after Kim took a job with a law firm that seemed to have progressive politics that aligned with his own. This impression, he said, was due to the fact that it was one of the few firms with whom he’d interviewed that had a woman in a reasonably senior position. He practiced law for more than 30 years, mainly in the financial sector, which had its high points including a time working on a golf course project for American professional golfer Jack Nicklaus. In 2005, however, Kim had decided to move into the private investment sector, and he joined one of his clients at RockBridge Capital, where he worked until retiring in 2010. ​   

Jude also went on, after graduating MSU, to receive her law degree through the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University in 1976. She worked as an attorney for several years at various firms dealing mainly with securities law, including a case that had a connection with one of the biggest securities fraud cases in Columbus at the time and another that saw her working for the former Commissioner of Securities for the State of Ohio. Kim noted that he was also working primarily as a securities lawyer during this time, so “we had the opportunity to explore together our mutual love for the securities law practice.” After two years with the former securities commissioner, Jude became involved with the Columbus Symphony’s education programs, where she was active as both a volunteer and an employee. She first volunteered to help with a project at the Columbus Public Schools after learning they had dismissed their staff of music instructors. The Columbus Symphony decided in response to give a series of six concerts a year to the elementary schools, with an additional workbook tape. The symphony had developed the system that used the workbook tape, and training for the support staff was required. She worked to coordinate volunteer training presentations at the schools involved, which led to the symphony’s education director asking Jude to work for her in a permanent paid position. Jude said she took the job despite some initial reservations. ​   

“I didn't think I really would like it because I’d have to go to work every day,” she said.“But it turned out what I liked about it was that I had to go to work every day. I ended up working there eleven and a half years, until I left and became an internet writer.”   

It was after Jude left her formal role with the Columbus Symphony and Kim retired from his position at RockBridge Capital that the couple were able to give larger amounts of support to the MSU community than they had previously. As Kim notes, at that point they had been giving to both the university and the Libraries specifically “since Magic Johnson won the national championship” in 1979. This support generally went directly to funding student positions; as of 2022, the couple had given more than $500 thousand in support to MSU, including through the establishment of the Kim L. and Judith A. Swanson MSU Endowment for Library Student Employees in 2007. In 2023, the Swansons committed to two more generous gifts, this time to both the MSU Libraries and the MSU Honors College. The couple has pledged $250 thousand to help fund the Libraries’ renovations to the 3-East Wing of the Main Library that will allow Special Collections to relocate their materials to ensure better conservation and preservation efforts. They have also made a $50 thousand pledge to the Honors College in the form of an endowment named the Swansons’ Honors College Summer Programs Fund, which will be used to support summer programs offered and/or sponsored by the Honors College, with a focus on supporting payroll costs of students employed within one of the summer programs.   

MSU Libraries Director of Development Caitlyn Perry Dial was enthusiastic about the recent support the Swansons provided toward the Libraries’ 3-East renovations. “Kim and Jude’s support has made a profound impact on MSU Libraries,” Dial said. “From their steadfast support of student employees to improving the physical spaces of the Main Library, the Swansons have left an indelible mark through their philanthropy, which is a reflection of the incredible people that they are.”   

This sentiment of gratitude for the Swansons’ support was shared by MSU Honors College Assistant Dean Bess German. “The Swansons’ generosity means that the Honors College can serve even more students in our new and innovative programs that broaden inclusivity,” German said. “Initiatives like the Academic Scholars Program and the Honors College IMPACT Mentor Program, both of which were supported by the Swansons this past summer, are two examples of how we expand opportunity and foster student success. Their sponsorship of stipends for our student staff through an endowment, and therefore in perpetuity, adds valuable and necessary support for new students transitioning to MSU.”   

When asked about the theme of supporting student employees, Kim again cited his and Jude’s own experiences in working as undergraduates. “Initially, we started giving because we wanted to have money available for people like Jude when she was in school,” Kim said. “Jude ended up working summers at the library through a student program, and we wanted to make sure that program was available to students in the future.”   

Jude also emphasized how much she enjoyed those summers working at the library. She specifically remembers one summer where she spent a lot of time using the Libraries’ bindery to preserve materials, including magazines. She recalled having to reach out to publishers if an issue they were looking to bind happened to be missing from the collection in order to try to get a replacement copy. Coming from the science library, she said, many of the magazines were from all over the world, and often in foreign languages, which meant it was especially difficult to find publisher addresses if you weren’t familiar with their language. Once you did make contact, she explained, it was then left up to the librarian to determine just how much they were willing to pay for a replacement issue.   

“I loved working there,” Jude said. “I loved the people I worked with. And interesting things happen during the summers at Michigan State.”