Bob Kursmark, E’73, was the first in his family to set his sights on attending college, and he hoped he could go somewhere outside of his small town of Mystic, Connecticut. He was drawn to Northeastern because of its co-op program—but he was advised not to apply, and instead to try to get into a safety school. He ignored that advice.
Kursmark was admitted to Northeastern with some good financial support. He knew that his co-ops would be more valuable than the pay he might earn, and he was right. His co-ops were extremely beneficial to his technical and collaborative experience in mechanical engineering.
“Interacting with people in a work environment is something you can’t learn in the classroom,” says Kursmark. Looking back, he advises, “If the co-op is not impactful on your life, then something’s not right.” He received his Master’s Degree from MIT, and enjoyed a long career at General Electric. Today, with his wife, Louise, a career services business owner, they are a team in life and in their philanthropic choices.
In 1999, during a visit to Northeastern’s campus when their daughter was looking at colleges, the Kursmarks observed first-hand how the university was growing and improving its caliber of academics and research. It became the catalyst for establishing his scholarship for students majoring in mechanical engineering.
“That visit made us realize that Northeastern was on track to advance in every way possible, across academics and in its standing in the academic world,” shares Kursmark.
When it comes to giving back, the Kursmarks believe that when you are serious about it you must know your objectives. They learned that Northeastern had established its own donor advised fund (DAF), which provides donors with a tax efficient way to manage their support for the university and other charities.
“Louise and I were already committed to Northeastern through our scholarship, but we found that, additionally, the DAF would give us flexibility in our philanthropy and allow us to give with a tax advantage,” Kursmark says.
Ultimately, the couple felt the DAF was a better fit than other gift vehicles because it helped them to invest more independently. One of those goals was to give back to the university that holds an important place in their lives.
“Setting up the DAF was pretty easy,” says Kursmark. “Northeastern did a lot of the work!” He and Louise enjoy following the market, and knowing that whatever growth they see from their contributions to the DAF will benefit their scholarship directly.
Careful consideration and commitment can lead to giving the next generation of students a chance to attain the world-class education that Northeastern provides. “I was the first one to go to college in my family, and I needed the financial support that I received,” Kursmark says, and he wants to do the same for future students.
Kursmark enjoys keeping busy, and now, with more free time, he keeps active with travel, athletic pursuits, and volunteering. He enjoys golf, skis in the winter, cycles on a road bike, and completed a recent Pan Mass Challenge with Louise. As a certified business counselor with SCORE, he mentors people trying to go into business for themselves. At Northeastern, he serves on the Industrial Advisory Board for the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.
“When we give to Northeastern, we’re part of the team!”