Massengales help students pursue dreams
February 12, 2001
The first time Randy Massengale ’78 saw the Lewis & Clark campus was the day he registered for classes.
“It was the first time I’d been away from home in south central Los Angeles for more than two weeks,” he recalls. “Lewis & Clark was where I first saw snow fall. And it was where I met my future wife, Kit (Campbell) Massengale ’81.”
The next four years proved to be pivotal for Massengale, founder and chief executive officer of Spinoza, a high-tech firm with headquarters in Seattle. The lessons weren’t always easy.
“Prior to coming to Lewis & Clark, I was conditioned to look for a single answer to any situation,” Massengale says. “Lewis & Clark challenged my assumptions of the things I ‘knew’ as ‘truth.’
“An important lesson I learned, that stays with me to this day,” he says, “is that people of great intellect can disagree on the same topic. I internalized the concept that there are multiple ways to approach any subject.”
Massengale, who will join the Lewis & Clark Board of Trustees in May, credits lessons learned at Lewis & Clark for much of his success in the rapidly changing high-tech industry.
“Throughout my life, I’ve been able to avail myself of opportunities instead of waiting for opportunities to manifest themselves to me,” he says. “Lewis & Clark taught me to go beyond the obvious.”
Massengale worked at Tektronix, Intel and John Fluke and in senior management at Microsoft and Infospace. Along the way, he also earned a master’s degree in management from Antioch University.
He named his new firm Spinoza, after the 16th-century philosopher who was excommunicated for believing that God and science weren’t mutually exclusive.
“I believe that the wired world and the wireless world aren’t mutually exclusive,” he says. Spinoza serves both worlds by providing devices, software and services to a variety of markets.
As a manager, Massengale realizes employees need to understand revenue stream and the fundamentals of a position, he says.
“But my biggest challenge in hiring employees isn’t finding the best technician or engineer,” he says. “It’s finding the person who has been taught critical-thinking skills. Lewis & Clark allowed me to do, and it allowed me to learn how to learn.”
He values Lewis & Clark as a place where faculty and students follow their passions and live out their dreams.
“The key to life after Lewis & Clark,” he advises students, “is to maintain that same level of optimism. That doesn’t mean that you take the approach that there are no problems. They do exist. But you can still choose to be an optimist.”
His wife, Kit, is equally optimistic and passionate about her work as a philanthropist. “You get so much back when you give,” she says.
Kit and Randy are members of Social Venture Partners, an organization modeled after venture capital firms. They are dedicated to respon-sible philanthropy that makes a difference to organizations and individuals. Social Venture members learn as much as they can about the organizations that they help fund and often volunteer their time as well as their money. The model has spread to more than a dozen cities, according to Kit.
In addition, she is president of the Massengale Family Foundation, which emphasizes education and children. Randy and Kit recently endowed the College’s Randy Massengale Scholarship.
“Most of our giving is anonymous,” Kit says. “But we felt it was important to associate Randy’s name with this scholarship.”
The $10,000 two-year scholarship ($5,000 per year per student) is awarded annually to a sophomore of African American, Native American, Hispanic American or Asian American descent for use in the student’s junior and senior years.
“We included a requirement of past community service because we are looking for students who have a history of giving back and a feeling of ‘connectedness’ to the community,” Kit explains. “We need to prepare students for leadership positions in a diverse community.”
“The community invested in me. It’s my obligation to invest in the community,” Randy says. “You never know when the individual whom you helped educate will revolutionize an industry or will come up with new approaches to problems that we didn’t think had answers. Giving isn’t an option, it’s an obligation,” he says.
Currently, recipients of the scholarship are Milène Tilghman, a junior from Santa Monica, Calif., who is majoring in French and biology, and Elizabeth Posey, a sophomore from Anchorage, Alaska, who is majoring in psychology and fulfilling requirements for a pre-medicine emphasis.
“This scholarship means a lot to me,” says Tilghman. “The Massengales not only give their money, but they also stay in touch and want to know how I’m doing in my studies. It’s very humbling. It means a lot to have them believe in me.”
The scholarship enabled Tilghman to participate in Lewis & Clark’s overseas experience in France last fall and will study biology in Micronesia next year.
“The Massengales are inspirational,” Tilghman says. “If I ever have the means to give back, I will. I want to help others receive an education like the one I’m receiving at Lewis & Clark.”
Posey, the oldest of five children, participated in the College’s study program in Washington, D.C., last semester. She is a resident assistant and a member of the Black Student Union. Posey hopes to create a mentoring program for disadvantaged youth to help them develop the skills they need to attend college.
Even though Posey is also the recipient of a Dean’s Scholarship, Alumni Leadership Scholarship and Alaska Permit Fund scholarship, she still faces the prospect of paying back $8,000 in loans each year.
“I appreciate the fact that the Massengales are committed to giving back to students,” says Posey. “It’s something I would like to do in the future.
“I hope other alumni see the value of giving back to the College, even if it’s just a word of encouragement to students.”