WMU News

WMU Foundation honors Ramona Bernhard

Sept. 27, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Ramona Bernhard, wife of former Western Michigan University President John T. Bernhard, was honored as Volunteer of the Year at the annual meeting of the WMU Foundation Friday, Sept. 27, at the Fetzer Center.

The Bernhards have been recognized for their long-standing support of the arts at WMU and in the Kalamazoo community on many previous occasions. The foundation's Volunteer of the Year award was based on Ramona Bernhard's recent contributions as a member of the College of Fine Arts Development Advisory Committee. She was instrumental in creating a series of "salons"--receptions based on an 18th century European tradition, which were hosted in private homes and featured performances and works of art by fine arts students and faculty members.

"I really don't feel that I've done all that much," said Bernhard in accepting the award, "because there is still so much to be done for the arts.

"If in any tiny way, the arts at WMU have benefited from what I've done, I am thrilled," she said.

During her husband's presidency, 1974-85, Ramona Bernhard is credited with helping create the "President's Preview"--now known as the "President's Performance"--an annual dinner-theatre fund-raising event for theatre scholarships. She served as one of the first board members of the Plaza Arts Circle in 1982, and chaired the circle's annual Kalamazoo Showcase for several years.

Mrs. Bernard was an early advocate and active fundraiser for Gold Company, the University's internationally recognized vocal jazz ensemble, formed in 1978. She also served on the board of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra League, including a term as president in 1981-82.

The Bernhards have remained active in supporting the arts on campus and in the community following President Bernhard's retirement. In the early 1990s, they served as co-chairs of the University's $6-million campaign for the Gilmore Theatre Complex.

In 1993, John and Ramona Bernhard were recognized for their tireless efforts on behalf of the arts, when they were named the first recipients of the Theodore C. Cooper Distinguished Volunteer Award by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo.

Media contact: Thom Myers, 269 387-8400, thomas.myers@wmich.edu

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