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STATE Your Passion: It’s no secret that students, faculty, and staff at Illinois State University state their passion every day. What might not be as obvious is that Redbird donors can state their passion, too. The College of Applied Science and Technology is grateful for the generous donors that give back to its programs.

One generous donor, Hal Balbach, along with his wife, the late Margaret Balbach, are leaving their mark on Illinois State University’s horticulture program through the Drs. Margaret and Harold Balbach Endowment Fund.

Margaret joined ISU’s Department of Agriculture in 1973 and founded the department’s horticulture-agribusiness program. Until her retirement in 1994, the late Dr. Balbach was the driving force behind the formation of the Horticulture Business minor. She retired as a full professor of plant and soil science in 1994. “It was a great contribution to her legacy,” said Illinois State professor of horticulture David Kopsell ’93, a former student of Balbach’s. “She started the program here and championed it for 20-plus years.”

Continuation of a legacy

Margaret’s desire to support the Horticulture programs was an element written in her will. Unfortunately, since she was unable to execute that will, her husband, Hal, has successfully been implementing her wishes. Their endowment has several foci. The first focuses on supporting the outstanding work being done at the Horticulture Center. The second is to provide funds to support expenses incurred by faculty involved in horticulture education and research. In the future, it may be possible for the endowment to provide funding for student scholarships.

The Balbachs believed that the mark of a true educator is their pride in observing former students go out into the world and be successful and prosperous by utilizing the information provided to them. “Many times, Margaret saw examples of this, and she felt the process should be supported,” said Hal.

Interested in giving back and stating your passion? Contact Katelyn Jacobs, director of development for the College of Applied Science and Technology, at (309) 438-3134 or