WMU News

WMU gets record $18.4 million in private gifts

July 6, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- For the second consecutive year, Western Michigan University set a new record for private gifts, with $18.4 million received during the fiscal year that ended June 30.

The previous one-year record was $17.5 million, set just one year ago. Prior to that, the largest one-year total in gifts to the University was $12.5 million, during the 1995-96 fiscal year.

"We are very gratified to see this remarkable growth in private gifts," said Dr. Elson S. Floyd, WMU president. "It is a testament to the important work being done at our University.

"We owe a great deal to the loyal alumni and friends who have made these record totals possible," said Floyd. "It is also important for us to recognize that this level of support does not come to an institution overnight. In some cases, these gifts reflect a life-long relationship between the donor and Western Michigan University."

According to a report presented to the WMU Board of Trustees at its July 6 meeting, $18,434,634 in gifts was received during the 2000-01 fiscal year, which ended June 30. In addition to a record in total gifts, the University also set a new record in cash gifts of $16,285,747. That figure represents an increase of more than $3 million or 22 percent over the previous one-year record for cash gifts.

Private support has grown dramatically since the creation of the WMU Foundation in 1976 according to Bud Bender, WMU vice president for development, who also serves as executive director and secretary for the foundation. Bender says that private gifts totaled about $1 million in 1976-77, the foundation's first year. The total increased to about $3 million in 1980-81, to $11 million in 1990-91, and now to more than $18 million in 2000-01.

"The past two record years have demonstrated the wisdom of Dr. John Bernhard [former WMU president] and the volunteers who incorporated the WMU Foundation 25 years ago," said Bender. "This [year's record total] is a great silver anniversary present for the foundation, and the volunteers who have served on the foundation board over the past 25 years deserve the lion's share of the credit."

All gifts to Western Michigan University are received through the WMU Foundation or the Paper Technology Foundation, which supports the internationally known paper programs at WMU. For the 2000-01 fiscal year, the WMU Foundation reported current and deferred cash gifts totaling $16,285,747 and non-cash gifts valued at $1,624,746, for a total of 17,910,493. The Paper Technology Foundation reported cash gifts of $409,637 and non-cash gifts valued at $118,504, for a total of $528,141.

Among the larger gifts from May and June reported to the Board of Trustees was $300,000 given anonymously to create an endowment for women's intercollegiate sports. The endowment will be named in honor of Jean E. Friedel of Kalamazoo, professor emerita of physical education. Friedel coached seven women's sports at WMU during her 29-year tenure, which ran from 1960 to 1989.

An anonymous donor contributed $12,000 for general support of the University's public radio station, WMUK FM.

WMU received a distribution of $70,698 from the estate of Merze Tate to further fund the Merze Tate Endowed Medallion Scholarships. Medallions are among the larger awards in public higher education and the most prestigious scholarships at WMU. The late Merze Tate of Washington, D.C., who died in 1996, was among the University's most noted alumni. She earned a bachelor's degree from WMU in 1927 and went on to be the first black American woman admitted to England's Oxford University.

Mrs. Peggy Sorensen of Kalamazoo contributed $40,000 in May to support the men's tennis program. The gift included $38,500 for the Hap Sorensen Endowment Fund, named in honor of her late husband and former WMU tennis coach for whom Sorensen Tennis Courts are also named.

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

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