Donor Impact Fall 2014

Young couples establish new scholarship

A strong friendship that took root at Grand Valley has branched out to support students.

Philip Alt, ’03, and Michael Marsiglia, ’03, were roommates during their Laker years. Their friendship expanded to include their wives (both Grand Valley alumnae) and now small children.

The two families also share a passion for Grand Valley and the willingness to help students by establishing a scholarship.

The Alt-Marsiglia Scholarship was one of the 21 new private scholarships created last year. Tied to the families’ backgrounds and degrees, the scholarship benefits qualified students who are majoring in any of the sciences.

Philip Alt is an audit manager for Plante Moran; April, ’05 and ’07, is an occupational therapist for Northern Physical Therapy. Michael Marsiglia is vice president for Atomic Object and co-manager of its Grand Rapids office; Danielle, ’04, is a stay-at-home mother. Both couples have two children.

Philip Alt, April Alt, Danielle Marsiglia and Michael Marsiglia

Pictured at the DeVos Center are, from left, Philip Alt, April Alt, Danielle Marsiglia and Michael Marsiglia. Both couples established a new scholarship to support students majoring in any of the sciences.

photo by Amanda Pitts

Kali Sanford is the first recipient selected for the Alt-Marsiglia Scholarship. She is a biomedical sciences major from Traverse City. Like many Grand Valley students, Sanford is paying for her college education with a combination of loans and scholarships. The Alt-Marsiglia Scholarship comes at a particularly good time, she said, as participation in a study abroad program last summer meant she wouldn’t have saved money from a summer job to put toward tuition.

“This scholarship will help cut down on my loans a lot,” Sanford said. Sanford’s sister is in her first year at Michigan State University, so the scholarship also eases the financial burden on her parents, she said. Sanford traveled to Ghana last summer to participate in a service learning project with other Frederik Meijer Honors College students. While there, Sanford worked with Ghanaian health care workers in hospitals and rural clinics.


She said that life-changing experience, along with participating in job shadowing programs at area hospitals, solidified her decision to pursue medical school.

An easy choice

The Alt and Marsiglia families have supported Grand Valley through different avenues, including the campaign to build the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons.

“It was really nice to see something tangible from a donation,” Michael Marsiglia said. “After the library donation, the Alts asked us if we wanted to create the scholarship. We all liked the idea of creating something long-term.”

It didn’t take much convincing, according to the Alts. “It’s an easy choice to make when something you can do will help a student,” April said.

Philip added that the process to establish a scholarship was easy, including listing any criteria recipients must meet. Applicants for the Alt-Marsiglia Scholarship must live on-campus, something all four donors did and believe to be an integral part of a college experience. The families, who live in Grand Rapids, said it’s been enjoyable watching the connection between Grand Valley and the city grow and strengthen.

The Marsiglias moved to the East Coast after graduation and Danielle said they returned, in part, to live in a vibrant, family oriented community.

Both couples spoke at the Scholarship Dinner in October about the importance of giving back and supporting Grand Valley. The annual event was an opportunity for many of the recipients from the 36 privately funded scholarships to meet and thank their donors.

More than 90 percent of Grand Valley students receive some form of financial aid; last year 1,400 students received private scholarships. For more information on establishing a new scholarship or other gift, visit

Giving Matters

GVU Foundation turns 50

This 2014-2015 academic year kicks off the 50th anniversary for the Grand Valley University Foundation.

After five decades of tremendous success, it’s easy to imagine that the best is yet to come. The university extends sincere thanks to the men and women who have led the foundation, worked tirelessly on committees and shared their wisdom and hard work that has contributed to Grand Valley’s success.

We look forward to the next 50! For a complete history of the GVU Foundation, visit


Gift match doubles impact

Gifts given to the Ott-Stiner Fellowship in Chemistry and Natural Sciences by November 7 had double the impact on Grand Valley students.

Les and Jackie (Ott) Stiner matched all gifts to the fellowship dollar for dollar up to the goal of $10,000. This was the second year of the gift match to this fellowship that benefits students participating in the Student Summer Scholars program. Visit to make a gift.


Foundation’s annual report online

The 2014 Grand Valley University Foundation Annual Report is now online with added videos and other features not found in the print version.

Search for your name or explore the online version at


#GivingTuesday 2014

#GivingTuesday is a movement that inspires charitable giving and volunteerism on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving.

Last year on #GivingTuesday, the Laker family participated in activities, volunteered on campus and supported the university with a financial gift. This year, #GivingTuesday is December 2, following Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Consider taking this opportunity to support Grand Valley students; visit to make a gift or learn more about #GivingTuesday at Grand Valley.

Page last modified April 27, 2018