Benedictine receives $2 million to benefit student scholarships

October 13, 2016

Lisle, Illinois ~ Future Benedictine University students pursuing science degrees may qualify for new scholarships thanks to two $1 million gifts.

Kay Birck, the wife of the late Michael J. Birck who was one of six founders and the former CEO of Naperville-based telecommunications company Tellabs Inc., and the Tellabs Foundation each agreed to give $1 million toward scholarships for BenU students pursuing degrees through the school’s College of Science.

“Our family has always been involved in the sciences and that’s why supporting the sciences is so important to us,” Birck said. “I have known this institution dating back to when it was called St. Procopius College. My husband, Michael, loved Benedictine and especially his time as a trustee of the University, and I feel the same way about it.

“It has made such a difference in the lives of our family through the years,” added Birck, whose son, Christopher, is a 1988 graduate of Benedictine.

Improving America’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education has been one of the nation’s top priorities – something that also has been a shared goal for the Bircks and the Tellabs Foundation.

“We are pleased to be able to support Benedictine University and its efforts to provide more scholarship assistance to talented science students who have financial need,” said Carol Gavin, executive director of the Tellabs Foundation. “The STEM areas have become a major focus in education throughout the country in recent years, and the mission of Benedictine and its efforts in the sciences align very well with the goals of the foundation.”

Working with business leaders and generous donors who support the University’s work to prepare students for highly skilled careers and to be responsible members of their communities is one way Benedictine helps make its values-based college education affordable and attainable, said Benedictine University President Michael S. Brophy, Ph.D., M.F.A.

“We are now in an age where students have no difficulty acquiring information,” Brophy said. “The biggest challenge they face is practicing discernment and seeking truth in an era where information comes rushing at them like wildfire. In order to better find this truth, students need to be able to afford a college education.

“These generous gifts from Kay Birck and the Tellabs Foundation will help many students on their paths to personal development and career success,” Brophy added.

The University will use these funds to apply additional support to newly admitted science majors’ financial award packages based upon need and merit.

“After being awarded a $1.2 million Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Grant from the National Science Foundation, the College of Science stepped up recruitment efforts for high-ability students with strong backgrounds in physics, math and chemistry,” said Bart Ng, dean of the College of Science.

“These generous gifts from Kay Birck and the Tellabs Foundation will allow the University to offer more merit and need-based scholarships to promising young scientists,” he added. “We are extremely grateful and honored they have put their faith in the College of Science’s ability to prepare our students for promising careers in the field of science.”

For more information about the University’s College of Science and its programs, please visit



Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has a branch campus in Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls more than 5,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the eighth consecutive year in 2018. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission ( For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, or visit

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