K Announces $250,000 Gift to Support Faculty-Led Student Research, Creative Works

Faculty-Student Research and Creative Works Endowment
Richard J. Cook and Teresa M. Lahti have established an endowment for Undergraduate
Research and Creative Activity to facilitate faculty-student collaborative work.

Kalamazoo College students participating in faculty-advised research or creative projects now have access to dedicated funding thanks to a $250,000 gift from a couple who previously served as members of the College’s faculty and administration.

The Richard J. Cook and Teresa M. Lahti Endowment for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity was established to facilitate faculty-student collaborative work. The fund provides stipends, materials and essential project-related travel assistance to students engaged in such research or creative activity.

The fund began awarding grants in 2020, providing support to projects as varied as chemistry research related to solar energy production and efficiency, the study of the physical structure of viruses and a poetry collection exploring themes of identity.

“A gift such as this one improves equity for students with financial need who want to take advantage of these collaborative opportunities—particularly in the summer months, when students are also working and saving for the coming academic year,” Provost Danette Ifert Johnson said. “We are so grateful to Richard and Terry for supporting what is often a transformative experience for K students.”

After earning a bachelor’s in chemistry from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Princeton University, Richard Cook joined the faculty at Kalamazoo College in 1973, eventually serving as chair of the division of natural sciences and mathematics. In 1987, he received one of Kalamazoo’s highest honors, the Lucasse Fellowship for Excellence in Scholarship. He was named provost of the College in 1989 and served for seven years in that role before being named president of Allegheny College in 1996. Cook left Allegheny in 2008 and joined Lahti Search Consultants. Today he is a higher education governance and leadership consultant with Cook Leadership Partnership.

Teresa Lahti was the dean of admission at K from 1991-1996, where she helped to lift K’s national profile on the admission stage. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of Saint Benedict and completed graduate work at the University of Notre Dame. Lahti began her career at the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University in Minnesota as an admissions counselor and later served as director of recruitment at the University of Miami in Florida and director of admissions at Agnes Scott College in Georgia before joining K. She founded Lahti Search Consultants in 1997, an executive search firm that specialized in placing enrollment leaders at more than 250 colleges and universities.

“We know from firsthand experience the life-changing difference scholarship support and dedicated mentors can make in a student’s trajectory,” Cook and Lahti said. “It is a true privilege to support K’s longstanding commitment to its nationally recognized student-faculty research program. We are confident that future students will benefit from the excitement of discovery through faculty-guided projects as previous generations of students have.”