New Gifts Support Faculty, Elevate Stevens’ Academic Enterprise
Two impactful gifts for faculty support are propelling the university’s strategic vision, fostering faculty growth and fueling influential research at Stevens.
Recognizing the importance of an exceptional educational experience, Aimee Rusinko and Michael J. Kakos MMS ’71 recently made a generous gift to support an endowed professorship. The grandson of Randolph T. Ode (Class of 1898), Tom Richardson also sees the value in supporting Stevens’ faculty and provided generous support for an endowed fellowship.
This philanthropic support for faculty has transformational impact across Stevens, helping to strengthen our commitment to excellence in teaching, expand capacity for life-changing research and elevate a dynamic culture of innovation for students. In addition to the fellowship support, Richardson established an endowed scholarship in honor of his grandfather.
“The Stevens community is incredibly grateful to Aimee and Michael Kakos and Tom Richardson for their remarkable generosity and commitment to our faculty and students,” said President Nariman Farvardin. “Their contributions help us to advance the priorities of our strategic plan, recruit world-class faculty, enrich the student experience and strengthen the prominence of Stevens as a premier tech-centric university.”
Investing in Faculty Excellence
The Kakoses’ gift establishes the Aimee Rusinko and Michael Kakos MMS ’71 Professorship. The professorship, funded through a planned gift and yearly contributions to the university, will enable Stevens to recruit an outstanding member of the faculty and empower them with resources to expand the scope and impact of their work.
Michael Kakos earned a master’s degree in management science from Stevens in 1971, after receiving a B.S. in chemistry from Manhattan College in 1958 and an M.S. in chemistry from Niagara University in 1960. He began his career in materials research and then worked at the Celanese Corporation in New Jersey, where he obtained several foreign and domestic patents.
His career transitioned into sales and marketing and in 1975, he settled in London where he worked for over a decade in international marketing.
He founded Resin Express Ltd., a leading distributor of engineering resins in the U.K., in 1986. His wife Aimee joined the company in 1989, serving as a director and partner. They sold the successful business in 1997 and currently reside in Winter Park, Florida.
“We are tremendously proud to support Stevens and its distinguished faculty,” said Michael and Aimee Kakos. “Stevens faculty are innovative researchers and exceptional teachers. They make a profound difference in the lives of students and inspire generations of innovative leaders. We are grateful for the opportunity to support Stevens and honored to share in its legacy. We believe this is a meaningful way for us to give back and make a lasting impact.”
Empowering Future Leaders
Richardson’s grandfather held a close connection to Stevens that inspired Richardson’s endowed gifts to the university. He also made an additional gift that enabled immediate awards of his fellowship and scholarship.
Richardson, who resides in Park City, Utah, is the retired founder of the T.O. Richardson Company (TOR), Inc., an investment advisory firm based in Farmington, Connecticut. He established the Thomas Ode Richardson Endowed Faculty Fellowship, which recognizes a faculty member’s exceptional achievements in research and their potential for future contributions and impact.
The inaugural Richardson Fellowship has been awarded to Dr. Ying Wang, associate professor of systems and enterprises. Dr. Wang joined Stevens in 2021. Her research interests focus on cybersecurity and wireless communications and health-related health artificial intelligence. Dr. Wang has received research support from DARPA, the Department of Defense and the Defense Logistics Agency and is the co-holder of four U.S. patents. She serves as chair of the Graduate Curriculum Committee for systems and enterprises and as an affiliated faculty member at the Stevens Institute for Artificial Intelligence.
Richardson also established an endowed scholarship in honor of his grandfather, Randolph T. Ode, who studied civil engineering at Stevens and graduated with an M.E. degree in 1898. Ode’s family were confectioners in New York City, and rather than pursuing the family business, Ode chose to be an engineer.
“My grandfather was the first of his family to ever go to college,” Richardson said. “He was so proud of that and mentioned it often over the years. He was very good at math and science and wanted to go to college. He chose Stevens and thrived. He absolutely loved his life at Stevens, and I can't count the number of times he mentioned Stevens affectionately over his life.”
After graduating from Stevens, Ode worked as a civil engineer at the Providence Engineering Co. in Providence, RI. He later served as president of the Providence Lithograph Co. and was elected president of the Lithographers National Association.
“I’m proud to honor his legacy in this special way,” Richardson said. “STEM-educated men and women have such an important role in our country, and Stevens graduates will greatly contribute to our future. My support for my grandfather’s alma mater is a heartfelt tribute to him and will help empower Stevens faculty and students for generations to come.”
The Randolph T. Ode Endowed Scholarship has been awarded to two first-year students, Robert Doumazios, a quantitative finance major in the School of Business, and Phoebe Kershenblatt, a mathematics major in the Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering and Science. The endowed scholarship will have an enduring impact in helping these talented students and future generations of students at Stevens.
“I am deeply grateful to our benefactors for their extraordinary support,” said Provost Jianmin Qu. “Stevens’ faculty and influential research are the driving force behind a dynamic and forward-thinking educational experience for our students. The generosity of our supporters energizes our momentum as a vibrant academic enterprise focused on excellence and innovation.”