Michigan-based entrepreneur and business leader, Larry D. Leinweber, sees an opportunity to help build a stronger economic foundation for the state. He envisions Michigan as a home for more software companies and wants to help build a pipeline of talent to make that vision a reality, with a special emphasis on retaining University students whose home state is Michigan.
In pursuit of this goal, Leinweber has chosen to give $2.4 million to the College of Engineering to establish scholarships that will support motivated undergraduate students from Michigan enrolled in the study of computer science. The gift will be part of the Victors for Michigan campaign, and will count toward the campaign’s highest priority: raising funds for student support. In addition, Leinweber will actively participate on the College of Engineering’s Victors for Michigan volunteer campaign committee.
Leinweber knows firsthand the challenge of building a successful software firm in Michigan, which is located far from the major tech centers on the country’s east and west coasts. He is President and Chief Executive Officer of New World Systems, the software company he founded in Troy, Michigan in 1982. Today, New World Systems is one of the largest privately-held software firms in Michigan and employs over 400 people. New World provides Public Safety and Public Administration software solutions to cities, counties, schools, and other public sector entities.
“The software applications we develop are complex, large scale, and have taken years to build,” said Leinweber. “Finding and retaining talented people in Michigan to build and support these kinds of big, complex applications has been and remains a challenge.”
Under the program established by Leinweber’s gift, scholarships emphasizing academic achievement and promise will be awarded to second-year, third-year, and fourth-year engineering students majoring in computer science who are state residents. Three or more awards will be made each year, and a student may receive the scholarship for a maximum of three years. Preference will be given to students declaring a desire to work in the Michigan software industry after graduation. An additional plus will go to deserving students who graduated from the high school in Leinweber’s hometown of Reed City, Michigan or any other accredited high school that is in Osceola County, Michigan.
“I want to ensure that we build a system of support and opportunities for students from Michigan who graduate in computer science so that they will find or make their careers right here in their home state.”
– Larry D. Leinweber
“I want to ensure that we build a system of support and opportunities for students from Michigan who graduate in computer science so that they will find or make their careers right here in their home state,” said Leinweber. “I am also motivated to give back and help students in Michigan to become successful and to share that success with our broader community.”
Leinweber’s gift will also create the Leinweber Software Scholars Society, which will connect current and past scholarship recipients to each other, the University community, and the Leinweber family. The society is intended to facilitate the development of a network of software professionals and opportunities within the state and to encourage software engineers to pursue their futures in Michigan.
“Our hope,” said Leinweber, “is that the Leinweber Software Scholars Society can help those students who want to stay in Michigan do so by engaging them in activities that will lead to employment or venture development in Michigan.” It is hoped that the impact of the Society will be magnified as students in the program build their own networks of connections in the state.
Leinweber’s son, David Leinweber, is a second-year MBA candidate at the Ross School of Business and serves on the boards of the Revitalization & Business Initiative, which is focused on raising awareness about the opportunities in the Detroit area, and the Ross Technology Club. He plans to make his future in Michigan and is in full support of his father’s gift and the accompanying plan. “There’s a lot of opportunity in Southeast Michigan, and I believe that technology will be an essential driver of future growth and economic diversification for the region,” said David. “Software is the new enabler, and the University of Michigan can provide the kind of top-level talent that will be needed to foster a strong tech community so that growth-oriented software businesses can be headquartered here.”
Prior to founding New World Systems, Leinweber served as President and CEO for a software and service division of Citicorp. Earlier in his career, he was co-founder and President of Advanced Computer Management Corporation. He began his technology career at IBM.