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LIVE: Western Michigan University lands largest private donation to a public university ever

WMU student reportedly robbed on campus
Posted at 10:44 AM, Jun 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-08 13:05:56-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Western Michigan University just landed the largest private gift to a public university ever, according to a report by The Washington Post.

The school confirms it was gifted $550 million by an anonymous alumni.

According to the report, the money will be delivered to the university’s foundation over 10 years. The Washington Post says the money will be broken up between three main streams. $300 million will go to Western Michigan’s Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, $200 million for need-based financial aid, faculty hiring, and other school initiatives, and the Bronco athletic programs will receive $50 million.

The previous record for largest donation was $500 million, The Washington Post reports. Western Michigan University's previous largest donation was $100 million, which was used to establish its school of medicine.

The Washington Post reports three schools shared the previous record of $500 million for the largest donation to a public university: Oregon Health & Science University, the University of California at San Francisco, and the University of Oregon.

STATEMENT FROM THE WMU PRESIDENT

Dear WMU community,

Today, we announced a historic, more than half-billion-dollar gift that will change the condition of countless lives and strengthen our community for generations to come. The $550 million gift received by the Western Michigan University Foundation is the largest philanthropic contribution made for a public institution of higher education in U.S. history.

Our benefactors, who have chosen not to be named, are profoundly generous WMU graduates who have a deep and abiding love for the University, for WMU Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine (WMed), Bronco Athletics and Kalamazoo. We are so grateful to them for their incredible gift and endorsement of our institutions' efforts to make a difference in the lives of our students and our community. They have committed $200 million for WMU, $300 million for WMed and $50 million for Bronco Athletics.

Their donation, designed to be deep and enduring in its impact, will be known as the Empowering Futures Gift. It comes during a period of unprecedented challenges in our world, a renewed national recognition of our society's frustratingly persistent inequities—including in higher education and health care—and a collective push for social justice. That’s why diversity, equity and inclusion are at the heart of this gift and what donors intend for it to impact.

They believe inclusive education empowers people and communities, with the understanding that the overall prosperity of a community is predicated on the prosperity of all its members. Empowering Futures seeks to break down historic barriers that have prevented individuals from reaching the full measure of their potential.

Student-centered and transformational, the gift will fund scholarships, advance medical education and research, support faculty expertise, increase athletic competitiveness and make possible numerous student-centered initiatives. While the scope and generosity of the gift is stunning, the fact that the investment is earmarked for education should be no surprise in Kalamazoo.

This is a community that believes in education as a force to lift up individuals and create opportunity. The School of Medicine, founded just 10 years ago and entering its second decade, is a wonderful example. Investing in the next generation of doctors and diversifying the ranks of that profession are critical because health care services are also a powerful way to lift up a community. The Empowering Futures Gift is indeed continuing a long-standing pattern, one that you should be proud to be engaged in as a member of our educational community. There is much more to share. Find additional information about this history-making gift at wmich.edu/empoweringfutures.

I am excited about what the future holds as we work to advance our mission, “So that all may learn.”
Edward Montgomery, President of Western Michigan University

WATCH THE ANNOUNCEMENT