Marsal Family School of Education named in recognition of U-M alumni family’s historic commitment

February 16, 2023
Written By:
Danielle Dimcheff, Marsal Family School of Education
SOE Interns Ann Arbor Open. Image credit: SOE
SOE Interns Ann Arbor Open. Image credit: SOE

In recognition of gift commitments to the University of Michigan School of Education totaling more than $55 million, the U-M Board of Regents approved a new name: Marsal Family School of Education.

The School of Education will be named for the family of Kathleen and Bryan Marsal and their children, Megan Marsal Kirsch and Michael Marsal.

With two generations of U-M education alumni in the family and a deep commitment to the role of education in a just and equitable society, the Marsals have become tireless advocates for the profession of teaching and the transformative work of the School of Education.

“Education is the most important investment we can make, yet we see a disconnect between what our society expects from education and the respect afforded education professionals,” said Kathleen Marsal. “The survival of society relies on well-prepared educators. Building understanding across differences begins with educators. Providing a high-quality education for all children—which is crucial for achieving equity—begins with educators.”

The family’s new $50 million gift will support initiatives to prepare and support a diverse population of teachers, build robust partnerships with schools and communities, and conduct research in collaboration with education practitioners. Over the next several years, this will include:

  • Launching a new four-year degree program focused on Learning, Equity and Problem-Solving for the Public Good (LEAPS) that will create novel paths to engage U-M students in learning education principles and knowledge that can be applied to multiple professions, including teaching
  • Expanding work with the P-20 Partnership on the Marygrove educational campus in Detroit
  • Supporting future educators by removing financial barriers to certification and providing crucial support throughout their early professional years
Dean Elizabeth Moje in a classroom. Image credit: SOE
Dean Elizabeth Moje in a classroom. Image credit: SOE

“With one of the largest gifts to any school or college of education in the country, the Marsal family brings resources and attention to critical efforts to improve education,” said Elizabeth Birr Moje, dean of the Marsal Family School of Education and the George Herbert Mead Collegiate Professor of Education.

“For more than a decade, they have joined this school’s leadership and our entire community in the belief that we can—and do—make a difference in the lives of children, youth and adults through education research, practice and policy.”

While acknowledging the scale of education-related challenges in the U.S., Megan Marsal Kirsch shared the family’s conviction that focusing more on teacher recruitment, preparation and retention can resolve one of the field’s greatest problems.

“We hope there won’t be a teacher shortage in 10 years because teachers will feel supported and valued, and teaching will be seen as a noble profession,” she said. “We are excited about U-M’s innovative approaches to teacher education, including The Michigan Education Teaching School in Detroit and extensive work with teacher educators outside of the university.”

For U-M President Santa J. Ono, it is an exciting time of growth for the Marsal Family School of Education.

“For more than 100 years, the school has been a premiere institution for educating and empowering teachers and students,” he said. “Today, with the benefit of tremendous vision and generous support, it is embarking on a new era of demonstrating how individuals and their communities can be lifted up and transformed through just and equitable approaches to education.”

Previous gifts from the Marsal family have created new career services for education graduates, provided dozens of scholarships for future teachers, facilitated the professional training of hundreds of teachers, and supported the work of partnerships.

When the Marsals initially engaged with the school during former Dean Deborah Loewenberg Ball’s tenure, they were excited to learn about changes to the teacher education program that prepared new teachers for greater success in the first years of teaching—a time when many teachers leave the profession. Furthermore, they admired the school’s commitment to research on education practice, which relies partly on strong collaborations with public school systems, including in Kathleen Marsal’s hometown of Detroit.

The family has continued championing these priorities for the past seven years alongside Moje as the school embarked on a first-of-its-kind partnership on the former Marygrove College campus in Detroit. The flourishing campus is home to The Michigan Education Teaching School, which advances the school’s efforts to prepare future teachers, support early career teachers and honor the expertise of experienced teachers.

A former vice president and director of taxes at Citibank, Kathleen Marsal graduated from the U-M School of Education in 1972 and has served on the school’s Dean’s Advisory Council for more than 10 years. Bryan Marsal is co-founder, CEO and managing director of global consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal and member of the advisory board of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business. He graduated from U-M with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business in 1973 and 1975, respectively.

After graduating from the U-M School of Education in 2014, Megan Marsal Kirsch taught in Harlem and Brooklyn, New York, before returning to Michigan for a master’s degree in early childhood education from Oakland University. She continues to work in the field of education as a curriculum designer. Michael Marsal, a graduate of La Salle University, is managing director and founding partner of Alvarez & Marsal Property Investments.