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Anonymous $5 million bequest will boost faculty retention

Dec. 15, 2007

KALAMAZOO-- An anonymous donor from southeast Michigan plans to leave $5 million to Western Michigan University to provide a significant boost to WMUís ongoing faculty recruitment and retention efforts.

The donor, an alumnus who majored in industrial psychology and social science with a minor in personnel management at WMU, has funded the gift through a bequest, the proceeds of which will be distributed to the University after the donor's death.

Sixty percent of his gift will be designated for use in the Universityís largest college, the College of Arts and Sciences, with 20 percent of the gift going directly to the college. Three departments in the college will receive portions of the gift in these amounts: School of Communication, 20 percent; Department of Chemistry, 10 percent; and Department of Psychology, 10 percent.

In addition, 15 percent of the bequest will be designated for use by the Haworth College of Business, and another 10 percent will support the College of Health and Human Services. The remaining 15 percent of the bequest will not be tied to any college or department, but will support University efforts campuswide.

"This is a wonderful gift that clearly reflects the value this generous donor sees in enhancing our students' ability to have ready access to the very best faculty," says WMU President John M. Dunn.
"Time and again, our alumni tell us just how significant such relationships were during their student days and beyond. One-on-one interactions between our students and excellent faculty are part of what we call the Western Edge, and this donor has embraced and made an important commitment to this concept."

According to the terms of the bequest, up to one-half of the gift may be used to provide "topping off" incentives for the recruitment and retention of top faculty.

"The whole notion of 'topping off' drives at the very center of what we are doing to enhance the quality of the WMU educational experience," says Dr. Thomas Kent, dean of the WMU College of Arts and Sciences. "It allows the college, and the University, to provide much needed start-up assistance in many areas affecting faculty teaching and research, and also enables us to supply scholarship and fellowship support for graduate students."

Kent added that the gift will, in the future, provide new ways for his college to recognize excellence. Last year, Kent instituted a Deanís Appreciation Awards program that provides recognition and modest monetary stipends to faculty and staff. Kent sees the bequest as a way to expand upon such initiatives.

"These are the kinds of touches, seemingly small on the surface, that really help to build morale and create enthusiasm," says Kent. "Weíre indebted to our benefactor for allowing us to be strategic in the use of these philanthropic dollars. As we talked about future opportunities, the donor was very open to new ideas that we believe will elevate the college and the University. For this assistance and cooperation, we are grateful."

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

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