WMU News

Kellogg Foundation awards $5.2 million to WMU aviation school

March 7, 1998

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. -- A $5.2 million award from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Mich., to Western Michigan University's School of Aviation Sciences is designed to send the school soaring to new heights in aviation education.

The grant from the foundation was announced by WMU March 7 during ceremonies at W.K. Kellogg Airport celebrating the launch of pilot training activities with British Airways. That airline became the first commercial client of the school's new International Pilot Training Centre in December.

The new award, which will come to the University over a three-year period, brings the Kellogg Foundation's support for the WMU aviation program to more than $8.2 million since 1993. Earlier foundation funding was instrumental in a total redesign of the school's aviation education offerings and the 1997 move from Kalamazoo to new facilities in Battle Creek.

"This grant is yet another declaration of confidence and support for our School of Aviation Sciences and I express my deepest gratitude to the Kellogg Foundation for the vision and commitment this grant represents," said WMU President Diether H. Haenicke. "This will help us cement our position as the leading collegiate aviation education program in the United States -- one that is accessible to all qualified applicants and one that produces job-ready graduates who have technical and interpersonal skills and a truly global perspective."

The new grant will be used to acquire more aircraft and state-of-the-art aviation equipment, hire additional personnel and secure expanded airport facilities. Those actions will promote growth in all of the school's aviation programs as well as build on innovations developed over the past five years.

The school, which already has reached capacity at its new facilities, will use part of the funding to purchase and refurbish an additional hangar that will provide an area for aircraft, office space for flight instructors and a dining facility to serve the school's students and employees.

The grant also will allow the school to purchase 15 additional aircraft to meet student needs and to help the school maintain the technological lead it has achieved in instructional equipment. In addition, the funds will be used to purchase a jet simulator around which the school will develop a jet orientation course for future pilots. Such a course would help newly trained pilots make the jump to jobs with major airlines more quickly.

New personnel funded by the grant will include two aviation education coordinators, a graduate assistant and a consultant who will work to continue progress the school has made in recruiting women and minority students. Those efforts began under the auspices of an earlier Kellogg Foundation grant. The new grant also provides funds for marketing aviation education opportunities at WMU.

In the past five years, the School of Aviation Sciences has worked with funding from the federal government, the city of Battle Creek and the private sector to totally revamp its program and facilities. That $38 million project included redesigning curriculum to respond to what the aviation industry indicated its future needs would be. The school also has increased the size and variety of its training aircraft fleet and acquired state-of-the-art simulators and other training equipment. The school now uses the European "ab initio" method of flight training, which is designed to train students with no previous flight experience.

The school offers the only comprehensive bachelor of science degree in aviation at a public university in Michigan. The school's four-year degree programs, which enroll 550 students, moved in September from Kalamazoo to new, larger facilities in Battle Creek. At the same time, the school launched its International Pilot Training Centre after becoming the only collegiate aviation program in the United States to be approved for pilot training by the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation was established in 1930 "to help people help themselves through the practical application of knowledge and resources to improve their quality of life and that of future generations." To achieve the greatest impact, the foundation targets its grants toward specific areas. These include: health; food systems and rural development; youth and education, and higher education; and philanthropy and volunteerism. Within those areas, funding also is provided for: leadership; information systems/technology; efforts to capitalize on diversity; and social and economic development programming. Grants are concentrated in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and southern Africa.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland; cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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