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Fine arts getting $2 million from anonymous donor

May 11, 2006

KALAMAZOO--An anonymous Michigan donor has committed $2 million in a planned gift that will be used across the full range of programs offered by Western Michigan University's celebrated College of Fine Arts.

The bequest, which was finalized earlier this month, will be used, at the donor's request, to support scholarships, purchase technical equipment, recruit an outstanding faculty member and support the Great Works Project in the University's Department of Dance.

"This is a strong university, and the College of Fine Arts will continue to be a 'College of Distinction,'" the donor said in making the gift commitment. "I am pleased that my bequest will help continue this wonderful tradition. But not for a few years yet."

Dr. Margaret Merrion, dean of the College of Fine Arts, says the donor asked for her input in crafting a gift that met both the needs of the college and the donor's interest in the arts. The areas selected for funding were both personal to the donor and broad enough to allow the gift to span the breadth of the college's programs.

"There was something both jubilant and very serious about this gift, because the donor has a great respect and love for the arts here at WMU," Merrion says.

How the gift will be used

To provide support that will allow continued growth for the Department of Dance's Great Works Project, which was created in 1996 with the goal of bringing the works of world-class choreographers to WMU and the greater Kalamazoo community.

To purchase technical equipment for the Department of Theatre that will allow students to gain experience in their field's cutting-edge technologies.

To support an endowed professorship in the visual or performing arts.

To fund a Medallion Scholarship for a student studying in the College of Fine Arts.

Medallion Scholarships are among the highest honors WMU can bestow on an incoming freshman. Valued at $32,000 over four years, they constitute one of the largest merit-based awards in American public higher education.

WMU's College of Fine Arts, which was the first university division of its kind in Michigan, consists of the School of Art, Department of Dance, School of Music, and the Department of Theatre. All four are widely recognized and are nationally accredited.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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