Planned gift creates two scholarships at the Spectrum Center
By Melina Glusac
ANN ARBOR – When Kenneth Hillenburg (MS ʼ86) and Alan Burg made the decision to make a bequest to the University of Michigan, their goal was to give back to the school that brought them together some 38 years ago.
Hillenburg, a retired periodontist, and Burg, a retired school administrator, started in increments: They spent five years helping to organize and relaunch the U-M LGBTQ Alumni Association with the help of the Spectrum Center, making monthly contributions to keep operations running smoothly. This impactful endeavor inspired them to continue giving.
When the time came to plan their estate, they allocated a large planned gift, which will provide for two scholarships at the Spectrum Center: the Kenneth L. Hillenburg and Alan J. Burg U-M LGBTQ Alumni Association Scholarship Fund and the Kenneth L. Hillenburg and Alan J. Burg Spectrum Center Scholarship Fund. The bequest also includes support for the U-M LGBTQ Alumni Association within the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan.
The scholarship funds will be awarded to undergraduate students who are affiliated with the Spectrum Center and/or student advocates for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQIA+) community and causes. For Hillenburg and Burg, these scholarships are especially relevant and needed today.
“I think sometimes people think now that being gay doesn’t seem to be such a big deal. It’s still a big deal for young people, depending on what kind of situation they’re in,” Hillenburg said. Many students may not have the support of their families at the time they are transitioning from high school to college, or at the age when they are coming out, Hillenburg said.
“We’re hoping that these students, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to go to college, especially to a college like U-M, would be able to through the help of these scholarships—whether that’s through the LGBTQ Alumni Association fund or the Spectrum Center fund” –Kenneth Hillenburg
The Spectrum Center is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, making it the oldest LGBTQIA+ community group at a higher learning institution in the country. The center provides LGBTQIA+ students, faculty, and staff with support services, in addition to promoting inclusivity, social justice, and equity on campus.
Hillenburg and Burg have ties to the Spectrum Center’s origins and recall its co-founder, Jim Toy, operating out of a tiny, hard-to-find room in the Michigan Union. They’re proud of the center’s ongoing evolution and heightened visibility.
By contributing to the progress of the Spectrum Center through their planned gift, the couple is giving back to a university which, they say, has made a commitment to continue robust student support.
“The University of Michigan has shown a determination to support diversity and to support all kinds of students, regardless of where they come from, the amount of money their family has, or their race, etc.,” Hillenburg said. “To support diversity in sexuality and gender expression is just another component of that.”
Click these links to donate to the Kenneth L. Hillenburg and Alan J. Burg LGBTQ Alumni Association Scholarship Fund and the Kenneth L. Hillenburg and Alan J. Burg Spectrum Center Scholarship Fund: