ASU Alumnus helps microbiology students realize their dreams

Coming from a family of modest means, alumnus Michael Peddecord understands that a college education is expensive. The 1970 graduate of the microbiology program in Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences worked several jobs to pay for tuition and started at Mesa Community College to save money.

Peddecord’s path worked out well, though. At the community college, he met his wife, Mary, and an ASU doctoral student who ignited his passion for microbiology.

After starting classes at ASU, Peddecord saw a future in medical school or graduate school. The latter worked out better and he accepted a place in ASU’s graduate microbiology program. According to Peddecord, in many ways, it was the happiest time of his married life. 

“Mary and I felt a very strong bond with ASU,” Peddecord said. “We both received a great education that helped jump-start our careers. We have lots of fond memories.”

After graduating, Peddecord pursued his doctorate at the University of Texas and became a professor at San Diego State University’s Institute of Public Health. There he taught public health classes and conducted research, retiring in 2010. In retirement, he mentored students, provided guest lectures and taught an occasional class.

However, before he retired, Peddecord noticed the debt students took on during their education. Instead of watching them struggle financially, he decided to help. In 1992, he began contributing to ASU’s microbiology program scholarship fund and hasn’t stopped in 22 years.

“When my wife and I went to ASU, tuition and cost of living were low,” Peddecord said. “Since then, both of us have been blessed with stable, rewarding, well-paying jobs. We feel it’s only fair to give something back.”

On top of yearly donations, Peddecord recently decided to put the program in his estate. He said it feels good to know that he can help support ASU students.

“I think part of the value of any scholarship is that, in addition to the money, the student knows someone wants them to succeed in meeting their goals,” Peddecord said. “Hopefully, they might also remember when they are successful, how other people supported the university scholarship program and do the same thing.”

Regardless of whether the students Peddecord helped follow in his footsteps and become ASU supporters, there is a long list of scholars whose futures were impacted by his generosity— as each received the help they needed to earn a college degree.

ASU Alumnus Michael Peddecord and his grandson Ryan attend an ASU football game.