East Lansing MSU Federal Credit Union started 85 years ago

EAST LANSING — MSU Federal Credit Union could have had humble originsfirst operating out of a college professor’s desk drawer, but in 85 years it has grown to over 300,000 members and approximately $7 billion in assets.

Eight members of the university’s faculty and staff founded the Michigan State College Employees Credit Union in 1937. They kept the institution’s records and documents in a desk drawer in an office on the campus of the current Michigan State University.

The founders settled after failing to secure a loan from a traditional financial institution during the Great Depression, MSUFCU President and CEO April Clobes said at an 85e birthday Sunday.

“So it’s essential to the foundation of this institution and to the essence of what we’re here to do today,” she said. “Give people great loans with great service.”

Sparty and the Michigan State University Drum Line entertain members at the MSU Federal Credit Union 85th Anniversary Celebration on Sunday, November 20, 2022.

Based in East Lansing, MSUFCU became the largest college credit union in the world and the 73rd largest credit union in the nation in 2003, according to its website.

It is far from the first days. The college faculty and staff who started the credit union ran it themselves for 20 years before hiring their first director, Frances Lesnieski, Clobes said.

Globe, who has served in his role since Pat McPharlin retired after 42 years in 2015said it was very progressive of the board to have a female leader at the time and that Lesnieski is the reason the company’s online chatbot is called Fran.

And the credit union continued to show a progressive trend. In the 1970s, it was one of the first credit unions to install ATMs, issue credit cards and offer loans to women, Clobes said.

“I also hear stories from longtime women and African American members that we were the only financial institution in the 60s and 70s that approved them for loans,” she told the State Journal.

MSU Federal Credit Union President and CEO April Clobes makes a remark during the 85th anniversary celebration that included plenty of food and entertainment for members on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022.

MSUFCU created its own website, desktop banking and mobile apps when digital platforms first became popular, and now members log into mobile apps more than 16 million times a year, it said. she declared.

The credit union has grown to operate 21 branches in Michigan and employ 1,074 people. It has $6.7 billion in assets and 336,924 members, Clobes said.

She said MSU faculty, staff and students still make up the largest membership group at 30%. Family members of members come second with 28% and the rest of the members are affiliated with Oakland University, community members and businesses. Oakland University employees became members of the credit union in 1966.

On Sunday, the company celebrated its 85th anniversary with food, fun and activities on its headquarters campus in East Lansing. Clobes took the time to thank the employees and members.

“Reaching 85 is a big milestone for any business,” she said. “It means to me that we are always relevant to our members. That we continue to offer new products and services that meet their needs.”

DeWitt's Isaac De Almeida waits patiently while his children from left, Gus, 3, Johah, 7, and Brigit, 9, color in the kids' zone at the MSU Federal Credit Union's 85th anniversary celebration on Sunday November 20, 2022.

And the institution continues to grow. It is the construction of a branch on the 28e Street in Grand Rapids and another in the Marquette Building in Detroit, which will open in early 2023. And he’s building a downtown East Lansing seven-storey, 81,000 square foot commercial building.

Over the past 15 years, the company opened a new headquarters on West Road in East Lansing in 2008, opened its second building on the headquarters campus in 2017, and offered opening specials this fall after the opening of a new head office branch at 3775 Coolidge Road.

Clobes said the company is expanding its commercial and small business lending programs, planning new products for next year related to home loans, and continuing to innovate with digital services to integrate human and digital services.

She believes the MSUFCU is important to members and the community because of the service it provides. Members appreciate the company’s early history and the fact that it was created to serve the MSU community.

She said at the celebration that people stopped her and told her they had been members for over 50 years. A member stopped her with tears in her eyes, saying that the employees treated her like family every time she went to the credit union and that they helped her with her financial education and success.

“That’s the mission of the organization, is to help every person achieve financial success and hopefully achieve their dreams through the work we’ve been able to do together,” Clobes said.

Here is a timeline of 10 significant dates in MSU Federal Credit Union history, according to its website.


  • Eight Michigan State College faculty and staff open the MSC Employees Credit Union on campus and operate out of a desk drawer.


  • Michigan State College becomes Michigan State University; the credit union changes its name to MSU Employees Credit Union.


  • The credit union moves into a shack on the MSU campus to use as their new office.


  • The first ATM is installed in a branch of MSU’s campus.


  • The Michigan State University Employees Credit Union becomes the MSU Federal Credit Union.


  • MSUFCU reaches $100 million in assets and over 40,000 members. MSU students become eligible for membership.


  • The credit union celebrates its 75th anniversary and launches the MSUFCU mobile application.


  • The company merges with Clarkston Brandon Community Credit Union, expanding its membership to approximately 8,500 members.


  • MSUFCU celebrates its 80th anniversary, opens the second building on campus for its headquarters and its first branch in Grand Rapids.


Contact Bryce Airgood at 517-267-0448 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @bairgood123.