Western Michigan University Foundation Receives Record Setting $550M Gift

Western Michigan University (WMU) President Edward Montgomery announced yesterday in a live press conference a $550 million donation to the WMU Foundation by a group of anonymous donors. It’s the largest gift ever for a public higher education institution in U.S. history.
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Overhead of WMU campus
WMU received the largest donation by a public higher learning institution of $550 million. // Courtesy of WMU

Western Michigan University (WMU) President Edward Montgomery announced yesterday in a live press conference a $550 million donation to the WMU Foundation by a group of anonymous donors. It’s the largest gift ever for a public higher education institution in U.S. history.

The donors and alumni that designed the gift to WMU, the WMU Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine (WMU Med), and WMU Athletics — known as the Empowering Futures Gift — have chosen to remain unnamed.

“We call it the Empowering Futures Gift because at its core is our donors’ belief that inclusive education empowers people and communities to create a bright future for all,” says Montgomery

Broken down into three segments, $200 million will go to WMU, $300 million to WMU Med, and $50 million to Bronco Athletics. It will fund scholarships, advance medical education and research, support faculty expertise, increase athletic competitiveness, and make possible numerous student-centered initiatives.

Montgomery says that the total sum of the gift is impressive, each part is nearly three times larger than any gift one of the individual components have received. The gifts will make an immediate impact in the following ways.

Western Michigan University

  • Educational Access and Retention: A significant expansion of need-based financial assistance with tuition, room and board and degree-completion support
  • Purpose and Passion: Paid experiential learning for students who rely on jobs to fund their education, as well as new support staff to guide students in their pursuit of a meaningful career
  • Well-being: New professional and technical support to improve mental health and help students develop healthy lifestyles
  • Transformational Excellence: Hiring new faculty to enhance the diversity of the faculty and advance interdisciplinary education and research

Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine

  • Scholarships that will reduce financial barriers for future doctors while recruiting classes that are reflective of our diverse community
  • Greatly expand the portion of students who receive full scholarships, eventually reaching 50 percent
  • Fostering innovation, collaboration and discovery in basic science, clinical science and community-based research
  • New programming and services to support a diverse and inclusive medical school community

Bronco Athletics

  • Enhance support for student-athletes’ academic performance and well-being, and achieve inclusive excellence by expanding diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives
  • Enhance recruiting and overall competitiveness in a championship environment
  • Create collaborative opportunities to strengthen pipelines through broad community engagement that connects youth with WMU

“This is a striking vote of confidence in the direction of Western, an expression of excitement for our medical school’s next decade, a major commitment to our athletics program and belief in the promise of our community,” Montgomery says.

“This incredibly generous gift and the array of support it enables is about how we assist any student who has the skills and the ability combined with the grit and determination to come to college to complete their education and reach their promise”

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