Marti Hearron's final gift to WMU establishes a fine arts professorship

contact: Cheryl Roland
| WMU News
Photo of Marti Hearron.

Marti Hearron

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—After decades of joyfully supporting the fine arts and students at Western Michigan University, the late Martha "Marti" Hearron of Kalamazoo made one final major gift to be revealed only after her death.

Hearron, a renowned biostatistician for the Upjohn Co., died Nov. 29. Her estate included a $2 million gift to WMU that will establish the Arthur E. and Martha S. Hearron College of Fine Arts Distinguished Professorship. It also will provide funding for some of her favorite arts programs as well as endow a new Medallion Scholarship for students in the fine arts.

The gift, and the fact that the endowed professorship is the first in College of Fine Arts history, were announced Feb. 5 by Dean Daniel Guyette at the college's annual Dance Advocacy Award ceremony that was part of the Winter Gala Dance Concert.

"In typical Marti fashion, she required that this gift remain undisclosed and anonymous until after she was gone," Guyette said. "But rest assured, we made sure she knew how much we loved and appreciated her generosity, sense of humor and wonderful spirit."

For years, Hearron and her late husband Arthur were devoted supporters of the fine arts at WMU, attending as many events as possible and establishing several scholarship funds to enable the fine arts education of dozens of students who became known as "Hearron kids." Including the newly announced gift, their donations over time exceeded $3 million.

About the gift

The new professorship, Guyette says, will allow the college to designate exceptional faculty members or appoint visiting professors who have made significant contributions to their disciplines. The designations will come with supplemental funding to support research and creative initiatives, and over the years, he says, the professorship will rotate through the college's four disciplines.

The Hearron gift also will support an endowed Medallion Scholarship bearing the couple's names. Medallion scholarships are WMU's premier awards for incoming undergraduates, providing $50,000 over four years.

"We will celebrate the lives that Marti and Art will continue to impact for decades to come as we welcome many new 'Hearron kids' to our family," Guyette told the audience during his announcement.

Additional funds from the newly announced gift will provide support for the Department of Theatre's Instructional Equipment Endowment and the Great Works Dance Project Endowment.

Margaret 'Marti' Hearron

Hearron spent 32 years working as an Upjohn Co. biostatistician. During that time, she was a trailblazer with a number of "firsts" to her credit. Active nationally in professional organizations, she helped form the Biopharmaceutical Section of the American Statistical Association and she was the first woman leader of that group.

Hearron earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Michigan. Her husband, Arthur Hearron, also was a graduate of U-M and a lifelong musician. He worked for the Upjohn Co. as well, designing and analyzing drug trials.

Together, the pair reveled in the Kalamazoo performing arts scene and provided support for WMU's marching band as well as its jazz studies, musical theatre, theatre, dance and art programs. Their largesse during their lifetimes also extended to other areas of the University, such as athletics.

College of Fine Arts

The College of Fine Arts consists of the Frostic School of Art, Department of Dance, School of Music and Department of Theatre. All of these academic units are nationally accredited, making the college one of only eight such colleges in the nation to have all disciplines accredited by their respective professional organizations.

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