WMU News

December gift report

January 22, 1999

KALAMAZOO -- More than $2.4 million in gifts was received in December by the Western Michigan University Foundation, according to a report presented to the WMU Board of Trustees at its Jan. 22 meeting.

The WMU Foundation, which was established in 1976, receives gifts for a variety of University departments, programs and activities. It reported receiving current and deferred cash gifts of $2,375,736 and non-cash gifts of $44,673 for a total of $2,420,409 in December donations.

That puts the total gifts received by the foundation at $6,152,669 since the 1998-99 fiscal year began July 1. This amount is $2,688,448 more than the total gifts received last year at this time.

Among the major gifts reported were two unrestricted donations in excess of a half million dollars, both previously announced, from Paul F. and Sue Coash and Robert and Susan McLean.

The Coashs of Kalamazoo and the McLeans of Portage, Mich., were co-owners of the West Hills Athletic Club in Kalamazoo. Longtime friends of the University, they offered the property to WMU this past month along with the West Hills Professional Center.

In return for the properties, a charitable remainder trust valued at $618,500 was created for each couple. Trusts such as this are a popular giving option for donors to universities and other organizations.

WMU's Division of Intercollegiate Athletics has had a long relationship with West Hills, where its Men's and Women's Tennis teams conduct their practices. The University has no plans to change the operations of either the athletic club or professional center.

Other major gifts reported include three that total $120,000 for the Donald J. Seelye Endowed Scholarship Fund for Athletics. Jane, the late Seelye's wife, donated $100,000 to the fund while Seeco Investments and Don Seelye Ford Inc. contributed $10,000 each.

The scholarship fund was established this past summer through a combined $50,000 gift from Seelye's family and friends, including Jane and the couple's sons, Michael and Patrick, all of Kalamazoo. Patrick received a bachelor of science degree from WMU in 1976.

Donald Seelye, who died in 1997, founded Don Seelye Ford in Kalamazoo in 1963. He developed the business into one of the largest and best known automobile dealerships in the region and actively managed the company until 1993. Michael and Patrick now the run business and its sister dealerships.

In addition, it was reported that a $100,521 gift was received from Ronald J. Voelker to establish the Voelker Family Endowed Scholarship. Whenever possible, scholarships from the fund will go to students from Michigan's Bedford Township.

Voelker of Battle Creek, Mich., is co-owner of Battle Creek Auto Glass as well as Barney's Glass Service in Kalamazoo. He received a bachelor of business administration degree from WMU in 1960. A life member of the University's Alumni Association, he has been a volunteer for the Mike Gary Athletic Fund and is a member of the President's Circle.

The WMU Foundation also received an $80,000 gift from the Eulalia S. Toms estate to establish the Eulalia Toms Family and Consumer Sciences Research Endowment. The endowment will encourage research that benefits the quality of life of individuals and families. Awards will go to faculty members in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Toms of Kalamazoo was an assistant professor emeritus of teacher education at WMU. She was on the University faculty from 1947 to 1970, during which time she also taught home economics in area schools. Toms died in 1998.

Two other notable gifts were received from Christine Weisblat of Galesburg, Mich., and the Tecumseh Corrugated Box Co. in Tecumseh, Mich.

Weisblat provided $10,191 for the University's Science Campaign Equipment Fund. She is president of the Weisblat Foundation, a multipurpose philanthropic organization in Kalamazoo. Her late husband, David, was vice president for pharmaceutical research and development at what is now Pharmacia & Upjohn. David received a University Distinguished Service Award from WMU in 1981 for his efforts to help expand the Department of Chemistry's library materials and research.

Tecumseh Corrugated Box donated $10,000 to the Jeffrey T. Robideau Awards for Meritorious Scholarship. The program supports outstanding Department of Management students and is named for the company's president and director. Robideau of Tecumseh received a bachelor of business administration degree from WMU in 1983 and has remained involved with his alma mater. He is a past member of the WMU Foundation and a member of the President's Circle.

Trustees also heard a report from the Paper Technology Foundation at WMU. The foundation received cash and non-cash gifts during December amounting to $47,893. This put the total gifts to the foundation thus far this fiscal year at $210,898.

The Paper Technology Foundation, established in 1958, is in the last two years of a $5.75 million capital campaign. The campaign began in July 1995 and will conclude in June 2000. So far, it has garnered about $4.1 million in gifts and pledges.

The foundation supports and enhances the internationally known paper programs offered by WMU's Department of Paper and Printing Science and Engineering. It also helps recruit and financially assist young men and women who wish to pursue careers in the pulp and paper industry.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 616 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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