CMU alumni pay it forward with $2 million gift

Magnussons' gift supports athletics, College of Business Administration

Tim and Sherry Magnusson met as high school students in the small Upper Peninsula town of Manistique. They attended and graduated from Central Michigan University together in 1994, getting married during their senior year. 

Over the years, the Magnussons have given their time, talent and treasures to their alma mater. Now, they’ve made their largest gift to date — $2 million — to support CMU Athletics and the CMU College of Business Administration.

"The Magnussons have deep roots in CMU and this generous gift is a testament to their commitment to helping students succeed in their academic journeys and beyond," CMU President Bob Davies said.

Tim studied business and German at CMU and has spent his career in the finance world. He helped found and serves as chief investment officer of Garda Capital Partners in Minneapolis. Sherry studied business administration and marketing, working in human resources until leaving the corporate world to raise their two children. She devotes much of her time to volunteer positions. 

Jennifer Cotter, CMU’s vice president for advancement, said the Magnussons have led the way in determining how their gifts will be used.

“Tim and Sherry have such passion for helping CMU students and have creatively used their gifts to benefit areas close to their hearts,” Cotter said.

Tim and Sherry Magnusson pose for a photo on the court inside McGuirk Arena with Athletic Director Amy Folan, President Bob Davies and Dean Chris Moberg.
From Left to Right: Director of Athletics Amy Folan, Tim and Sherry Magnusson, CMU President Bob Davies, Dean Chris Moberg.

Foundation in finance

Fond memories from their time as students in Grawn Hall inspired the Magnussons to pay it forward to the College of Business Administration, specifically the finance program, for many years. 

College Dean Chris Moberg said their newest gift will enhance opportunities for finance students to learn through real-world experiences such as competitions and corporate visits.

“Tim and Sherry have ensured the next decade of finance students will have access to experiential learning opportunities, which we are truly grateful for,” he said. “These experiences set CMU, our students and alumni apart, helping them develop as professionals and future leaders in their organizations and communities.” 

Their previous gifts established the Magnusson CBA Study Abroad Award, the Magnusson Internship Fund and the Magnusson Endowed Professorship, which supports the faculty member who directs the Michigan Finance Scholars program. A room in Grawn Hall also is named after them. 

Tim is a member of the College of Business Administration Dean’s Advisory Board, and the couple regularly volunteer for events such as Dialogue Days and the New Venture Competition. He regularly hosts students and faculty at Garda Capital, and hires CMU interns and graduates.

“CMU students and alumni I hire outhustle and outwork everyone,” Tim said.

Advancing athletics

As students, Tim and Sherry Magnusson loved attending sporting events, beginning a lifelong commitment as CMU Chippewa fans. This commitment influenced their decision to fund the enhancement of student-athlete health and well-being.

“It isn’t easy to be a D1 student-athlete and we want to see student-athletes succeed,” Sherry said. “We’re grateful to play a small part in ensuring they have a positive experience at CMU and end up with a degree.”

Amy Folan, Zyzelewski Family Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics, said the Magnussons made the first major gift to the recently announced Maroon & Gold BOLD campaign, a fundraising initiative for CMU Athletics. 

“The Magnussons are incredible supporters and genuinely care about student-athletes,” Folan said. “Their gift will help fund game-changing programs and facility enhancements focused on student-athlete experiences.”

A lifelong ‘right choice’

Tim, one of CMU’s first Centralis scholars, said the financial support he received from Central enabled him to go to college. 

“The Centralis scholarship was a life changer because my parents didn’t have the means to send my brother and me to school at the same time,” Tim said.

Sherry said she needed and found a different type of support at CMU. 

“I was the first generation in my family to attend a four-year university. I needed a work-study job to help it all come together, and Central gave me that. They also gave me the guidance and confidence I needed, she said.

“CMU was perfect for us for so many reasons. We tell everyone we know about the university and feel like we’re part of the recruiting staff.”

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