WMU News

Gifts to WMU total nearly $11 million

Oct. 8, 1999

KALAMAZOO -- Gifts to Western Michigan University amounted to nearly $11 million in 1998-99 and included an increase of $2.9 million or 38 percent in gifts to the WMU Foundation, according to reports presented to the WMU Board of Trustees Oct. 7.

"These figures represent the continued commitment of individual and corporate donors who share our vision for Western Michigan University and whose generosity is truly exemplary," said Bud Bender, associate vice president for development and secretary of the foundation.

Gifts to the Paper Technology Foundation, which is administered as part of the WMU Foundation, totaled $395,904 in 1998-99. That is a decrease of $980,219 from last year's total. When combined with $10,582,987 in gifts to WMU Foundation itself, total gifts to the University reached $10,978,891 for the year ending June 30.

Bender also noted that pledges to the WMU Foundation are up $10.9 million from last year for a total of $15.2 million. The increase in pledges reflects significant commitments to WMU from the greater Kalamazoo community.

Southwest Michigan First, a private community development organization, the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation and National City Corp. pledged $7 million, $3 million and $1 million respectively for support of the WMU College of Engineering and Applied Sciences for its relocation to Lee Baker Farm. Bronson Healthcare Group committed $1 million to rename the WMU School of Nursing as the Bronson School of Nursing, bringing its support to WMU to $2.5 million.

The Gilmore Foundation also pledged $10,900 for the Plaza Arts Circle, a local arts organization, and $5,800 for Minifest X-Exposition. Elizabeth Upjohn Mason of Kalamazoo pledged $25,000 to the Kathy Beauregard Athletic Administration Internship program.

In pledges announced separately, Ameritech made a commitment of $150,000 for a project to recruit and retain minority students in WMU's teacher preparation programs and Greenleaf Asset Management Inc. of Kalamazoo pledged $352,000 for minority scholarships in the Haworth College of Business.

"Taken together, these impressive totals demonstrate the confidence of donors in the leadership of the WMU Foundation, as represented by its volunteer officers, and of the University at large, including that of our president, Dr. Elson S. Floyd," Bender said.

Trustees also heard reports of private giving by individuals to WMU during the months of June, July and August. Such gifts totaled $344,497 in June, $224,100 in July and $1.7 million in August, for a total of $2.2 million.

Those gifts included $375,000 from the estate of Ruth M. Scherer, who died Dec. 17, 1998, in Alma, Mich. The gift establishes the Milton E. and Ruth Sherer Endowment Fund in the Department of Geography. The fund will support geographical field studies of countries in the Pacific Rim, including the People's Republic of China, Japan, Korea and the Philippines. The recipient is expected to present a lecture upon her or his return as well as provide a written account, for which the endowment will cover the cost of publication.

Milton Sherer taught commercial geography at Muskegon High School and Muskegon Community College. Ruth Sherer, a 1924 WMU graduate, was an art teacher and supervisor for 10 years in the Sturgis Public Schools. But it could have been the couple's honeymoon to the Orient in 1930 that sparked their interest in that part of the world, according to WMU records.

Other gifts in the three-month period included one of $40,000 from the estate of Stanley Weber for an endowed fund in the Haworth College of Business. Weber, a 1950 WMU graduate in business administration, was president of Lew Hubbard Inc., a Kalamazoo men's clothing store.

The estate of Dorotha Kercher made a final distribution of $29,714 to WMU in June, completing a bequest for endowments totaling $1.7 million. Of the total, $1 million is for the Leonard C. and Dorotha Kercher Endowment Fund in the Department of Sociology and more than $700,000 is for the Dorotha Kercher Endowment Fund in the University Libraries.

Kercher retired in 1976 as an assistant professor in the WMU Libraries. Her late husband, Dr. Leonard Kercher, was the founder and first chairperson of WMU's Department of Sociology.

WMU also received $26,231 from the estate of Samuel K. Smart Jr. of Benton Harbor. The amount is the final distribution of a bequest that totals $162,719 for a scholarship in his name in the College of Education. The need-based scholarship is for students who intend to teach science or mathematics.

Two foundations and a corporation made gifts in the last three months. The Pharmacia & Upjohn Foundation made gave WMU $20,000 through the University's annual fund.

The Georgia-Pacific Corp. gave WMU $15,000 for the food marketing program in the Department of Marketing. Of the total, $10,000 will support scholarships and $5,000 will support the program itself. The Wal-Mart Foundation gave WMU $15,000, also for scholarships in the food marketing program.

Media contact: Mike Matthews, 616 387-8400, michael.matthews@wmich.edu

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