Alumnus Credits MSOE for Success

Don Backys smiling Although it's been awhile since Don Backys '67, P.E. has set foot in an MSOE classroom, the electrical engineering graduate never lost his connection with, or love of, MSOE. While pursuing a career in communications electronics at Motorola, Backys served on the ECET industrial advisory board for more than 20 years and received the Outstanding Alumnus Award in 1982.

He credits his MSOE education for opening doors he never thought possible. "When I went to MSOE I was gathering keys on a key ring, although at the time I didn't realize it. Those keys opened doors for me that I didn't even see or realize existed. When I look back over my 40-year career, the projects I worked on, people I met and places I went would have never been possible had I NOT gotten that BSEE degree from MSOE. While managing my own engineering consulting business during the last years of my professional career the final door opened, I was elevated to Fellow in the Radio Club of America."

In addition to contributing to MSOE's Annual Fund, Backys had earmarked funds in his will for his wife Ann to set up a scholarship upon his death. "After some discussion we decided to set up an endowed scholarship now, rather than waiting," said Backys. "Why not set up a scholarship fund now so I can actually meet the students I'm helping? Scott Weaver [MSOE's director of planned giving] did a great job talking me through the process, and setting up an endowed scholarship fund was a lot easier than I thought."

An endowed scholarship serves as the perfect giving vehicle for Backys. Not only does he get to meet the students he's helping, it's financially beneficial too. "After meeting with our financial advisor and Scott Weaver, we decided to take the money out of my IRA. That way the money is transferred as a gift to MSOE with no tax impact." In addition, Backys can make future contributions to the scholarship if he wants. "With each passing year I can contribute additional funds. A percentage of the interest goes back to the scholarship base so it grows with time while it's paying out scholarships. By the time I pass, it could become quite a substantial scholarship fund. I am feeling proud to be part of the MSOE family."

For Backys, starting the endowed scholarship was more than just a financial decision. "Nobody can put a price on the happiness I'm getting today, knowing that some young men and women who really need it will get that money. It's my way of giving back to the engineering community; something I wanted to do for a long time. Thank you, MSOE, for helping me open so many doors."

For more information about including MSOE in your estate planning, contact Jeff Snow, director of planned giving, at (414) 277-7152 or

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Milwaukee School of Engineering a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Milwaukee School of Engineering, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 1025 N. Broadway, Milwaukee, WI 53202, or its successor thereto, ______________ [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to MSOE or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to MSOE as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to MSOE as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and MSOE where you agree to make a gift to MSOE and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

Personal Estate Planning Kit Request Form

Please provide the following information to view the materials for planning your estate.

First name is required
Last Name is required
Please include an '@' in the email address

eBrochure Request Form

Please provide the following information to view the brochure.

First name is required
Last Name is required
Please include an '@' in the email address