Alumni generosity fuels student success

Recognized for career achievements and community involvement, Alumni Hall of Fame inductee Michael Staenberg (BS Business Administration '76) continues to demonstrate the power of doing good while doing well.

His recent gift to the W. P. Carey School will create scholarships to help first-generation and economically disadvantaged business freshmen attend Camp Carey — a one-of-a-kind experience that supports student success from day one at ASU. We caught up with him to talk about his decision to give back, the importance of philanthropy, and everything in between.

Why is philanthropy important to you? Why do you give?

I grew up in a middle-class family in Omaha, Nebraska. My father, Marty Staenberg, was a developer and was growing the Staenberg Company business by building residential properties throughout Omaha when he died suddenly at the age of 39. I was only 13.

As the oldest of four, I had to help in any way I could. I worked bagging groceries to help support the family. Even though my dad left us at a very early age, he taught our family a lot. We learned the importance of hard work and that charity begins at home. My parents instilled in each of us the importance of the Jewish tradition of tzedakah — giving to charity. Each week, we would fill our box with money we had put aside for the synagogue but we also paid attention to other ways we could help those in need.

My upbringing and experiences became my foundation for life. As I grew and developed my own commercial real estate business, I viewed philanthropy as my way to continue our family legacy by paying it forward. Giving of your money is one way, but also being generous with your knowledge, ideas and time can make a real difference.

Why did you decide to support Camp Carey scholarships for first-generation and economically disadvantaged students?

When my dad died, someone made an anonymous contribution for me to attend Shwayder Camp in Colorado. This was the experience of a lifetime and it made a profound impression on me. It was at camp that I learned through others, created a network of friends. I think about that experience often and it guides my decision to help others in the same way.

I have invested in numerous camps to improve their facilities and to give other kids the chance to experience camp through scholarship offerings. This is what appealed to me about the Camp Carey program. No one becomes successful on their own. Opening the door to these students is the first step in creating the opportunities that will make a difference for a lifetime.

What do ASU and W. P. Carey mean to you? Why do you care about the business school?

I credit the W. P. Carey School for my business education and knowledge. It taught me discipline and gave me a mind for business. You can get a degree anywhere these days but I like that ASU takes a different approach for getting students to actually engage and be part of the learning.

How have your college experience and education shaped your professional career? Your personal life?

I learned early on the importance of education. When I was 15, my principal called me into his office to let me know that I was ranked No. 401 of 400 in my school. I was failing and on my way out. He informed me that studying in his office after school, every day, was my new job. I went from being No. 401 to No. 3 in my graduating class. That focus on my education turned into a work ethic that carried me through college and into my career.

What tips for success do you have for future W. P. Carey graduates?

Pick a job that you enjoy. Don’t make it about money.

And try to give back. If you change just one life, you’ve made a difference.


Alumni generosity fuels student success — to graduation and beyond. See how your contributions can help build the future of business, and its next generation of leaders.