A famous artist and alumna who became Western Michigan University's most generous benefactor now has a University school named after her. The WMU Board of Trustees approved the naming of the Gwen Frostic School of Art at its meeting on April 27th.
Frostic was a celebrated Michigan artist, whose lifelong love affair with her alma mater culminated in her bequest of a gift of $13 million to WMU, the largest single gift in the school's history.
Frostic, one of WMU's most accomplished alumni, died on April 25, 2001, the day before her 95th birthday. Widely known since the 1950s for her block print art, she died in her longtime home in Benzonia, Mich., where she operated Presscraft Papers, Gwen Frostic Prints of Benzonia, a Michigan landmark.
Frostic's gift was for the unrestricted use of the University, leaving its allocation to the discretion of the president. In keeping with Frostic's creative and artistic bent, the University has channeled much of her gift to foster artistic pursuits, including the English Department's Gwen Frostic Reading Series, School of Art facilities and student scholarships in art and creative writing. Funds also go to business scholarships and three Gwen Frostic Medallion Scholarships, which are awarded to incoming freshman and each valued at $40,000 over four years.
"Over the years, she formed many close friendships with persons at this University," says Dr. Diether Haenicke, WMU president emeritus, interim president and a longtime friend of Frostic's. "Her donation has already benefited many students on our campus."