William J. Beal Society

The William J. Beal Society recognizes the generosity of donors who make a commitment of at least $10,000,000 to MSU or a qualifying deferred gift of at least $15,000,000. In addition, Beal Society donors are permanently enshrined in the pillars of Benefactors Plaza.

William James Beal was a professor of Botany at Michigan Agricultural College from 1870-1910. Beal designed the original format for the oldest continuously operated botanical garden in the US. In 1879, Dr. Beal began his vitality experiment by burying 1,000 seeds from twenty different plant species to test seed germination. That same year, Dr. Beal's crossbreeding experiment demonstrated a 21-51% increase in corn yields. This led to the first published account of a field experiment demonstrating hybrid vigor in corn, by Eugene Davenport and Perry Holden, 1881. He authored The New Botany, in which his emphasis on naturalistic design with both native and exotic plants is described; and Grasses of North America. His outdoor laboratory has expanded to 6 acres and over 5,000 species, and is acknowledged as the oldest of North American botanical gardens.

For more information on the William James Beal Society membership, please call University Development at (517) 884-1000 and ask to speak to a special gifts officer.