The Frey Foundation, the eighth largest foundation in Michigan, has made a gift of $1.2 million to the School of Business Administration.
The gift will establish the Edward J. Frey Professorship of Banking, pending approval by the Regents. The professorship honors Grand Rapids native Edward John Frey Sr., who for 31 years headed one of western Michigan’s largest banks, Union Bank & Trust Co., founded in 1918 by his father John E. Frey. It is now part of NBD Bank, N.A.
The Frey Professorship will be awarded to an individual whose teaching and scholarship will have a significant impact on public policy and the practice of banking and financial services, said Business School Dean B. Joseph White.
“We are very pleased to accept this generous gift in honor of Edward J. Frey. Mr. Frey was a distinguished businessman, innovator, community leader and humanitarian, as well as a longtime friend of the University.
“With this professorship, we can strengthen the School’s expertise in banking while infusing our students with an entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to community, state and country. Mr. Frey so clearly demonstrated these principles in his life and by establishing the Frey Foundation.”
Frey developed a number of banking innovations, including installment loans for mobile homes, and founded Foremost Insurance Co., the nation’s leading insurer of mobile homes and recreational vehicles, in 1952.
With his wife, Frances T. Frey, Edward Frey established the Frey Foundation in 1974 to promote worthy community and educational programs. Frey’s children, Edward J. Frey Jr., David G. Frey, Mary Caroline (Twink) Frey, and John M. Frey, continue his interest in philanthropy and community service and serve as trustees of the family foundation.
“Our father had very strong ties and a very special feeling for the University of Michigan,” noted Mary Caroline Frey. “He recognized the University not only for what it provided him personally as a student, but also how it has enhanced the lives and careers of thousands of others.”
She said members of the Foundation have been particularly impressed with White’s efforts to stress that School of Business Administration students should gain practical, “hands-on” experience in the world of work, as well as knowledge through study and classroom lectures.
“The Frey family and their Foundation see the endowed professorship as an ideal way to honor the memory of Edward J. Frey and to further advance the University’s outstanding School of Business Administration,” she added. “We are confident the University will select an individual for the Edward J. Frey Professorship who will be an outstanding teacher and researcher and who has a national or international perspective in banking and finance.”
Edward J. Frey Sr. received his undergraduate degree from the U-M in 1932, beginning a tradition of association with the University that has continued for more than 60 years, with a number of Frey family members having attended or graduated from the University.