WMU News

WMU seeks 'partners' for $125 million campaign

Aug. 30, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University today announced the largest fund-raising effort in the school's history, with the goal of raising $125 million in time for WMU's 100th anniversary celebration, in 2003.

"Partnering for Success: The Centennial Campaign for Western Michigan University" is comprehensive, addressing support for students, faculty and programs, as well as equipment needs and several new building projects.

Making the announcement at an 11 a.m. news conference were Dr. Elson S. Floyd, University president, and William U. Parfet, chairman and chief executive officer of MPI Research, who will chair the campaign. Bud Bender, WMU vice president for development, also spoke at the event. The goal is more than double the $62 million raised in the University's last campaign, successfully completed in 1992. Parfet also chaired the previous effort, which exceeded its original goal by more than $7 million.

"This University is here today," said Floyd, "because of a partnership with the citizens of Kalamazoo." Among some 30 cities vying to be home for a new teachers college in 1903, Kalamazoo won the nod from the State Board of Education with a commitment to provide 20 acres of land, pay one-half of teachers' salaries, develop the campus infrastructure and contribute $40,000 for new buildings.

"In the years since our founding," continued Floyd, "we have expanded our partnerships to include many communities and businesses throughout the state, the nation and the world." In recent months, WMU has opened a new graduate studies center in downtown Grand Rapids, initiated an MBA program in Singapore, and, earlier this week, broke ground for a new University facility on the campus of Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor.

"Western Michigan University is on a roll," said Parfet. "You can just feel the energy. I agreed to help lead this campaign because I'm convinced that an investment in this University will pay solid dividends to our community, state and nation. Armed with the appropriate resources, there is no limit to the contributions that this University can make."

Floyd described the growth of WMU, from a regional two-year teachers college with an initial enrollment of 117 to a major university of more than 28,000 students. One year ago, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classified WMU as a "doctoral/research-extensive" university. Only four Michigan universities are included in this highest classification.

Said Floyd, "It is through the reputation of our faculty and the commitment of our alumni and friends that we continue to catapult this university forward."

The centennial campaign is divided into five broad areas:

Support for students -- $14 million to fund scholarships, fellowships and "experiential learning," such as internships in business, government and the arts.

Support for faculty -- $13 million to enhance faculty programs, including endowed faculty positions intended to attract and retain top teachers and researchers in key fields where WMU has a developing national reputation.

Programs and activities -- $15.25 million for such initiatives as visiting artists and scholars programs, which annually bring experts and artists of international renown to the campus.

Equipment -- $30.7 million for equipment needs across the campus, especially in engineering and the sciences, but also including health and human services, the performing arts and many other areas.

Facilities -- $52.05 million for projects that include major new buildings for: engineering and athletics, both already under construction; health and human services, announced earlier this month; and a new building for the Department of Art, plans for which will be unveiled later.

Earlier this summer, WMU announced a second consecutive record year for private gifts, with $18.4 million received during the fiscal year that ended June 30.

"I am very pleased to announce," said Parfet, "that we have already raised more than $75 million, or 60 percent of our campaign goal. This is a great start, but we still need to pursue our goal vigorously if we want to succeed in time for Western's 100th anniversary celebration."

Following the news conference announcement of the campaign, Floyd and Parfet adjourned to a private luncheon in WMU's Gilmore Theatre Complex, where they repeated their message to about 150 alumni and donors. Joining them at the luncheon program were WMU Foundation President James S. Brady and Drs. Edward and Ruth Heinig, retired WMU faculty members and co-chairpersons of the University's Centennial Celebration Committee.

"This is only the beginning," remarked Parfet. "During the next two years, we will carry this important message to alumni and friends throughout the country."

Said Floyd, "I always enjoy talking about the extraordinary success of our students, faculty and University. It's a great story."

Media contact: Thom Myers, 616 387-8400, thomas.myers@wmich.edu

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