Funds and endowments supporting the department's pedagogical and professional development needs are critical to the success of the Department and its students. The following list will give you an idea of the generosity of donors who support the department.

Department of History (Annual Fund—unrestricted for the department)

Discretionary funds for the Department of History are critical in support of its teaching, research, and service missions. Contributions to the Annual Fund are especially important because they support activities not covered by normal university or department budgets. As well, other endowments with specific granting areas, such as undergraduate student support often do not generate enough revenue to meets the demands of their mission. The Annual Fund can be used, in such instances, to supplement shortfalls in established endowments/funds.

Dr. Ernst Breisach Scholarship for History

Dr. Breisach joined the Department of History in 1957 and later served as department chair from 1967-89. Even after his retirement in 1996, he continued working part time and celebrated 50 years of teaching in 2007. Western Michigan University President Diether Haenicke established the Breisach scholarship at Breisach’s retirement and it supports graduate student awards, with a particular emphasis in European history, which was the area of Breisach’s research and teaching interest.

Dr. Smith Burnham Prize in History

Dr. Smith Burnham served as chair of the Department of History from 1919-39, and his daughter Dr. Margaret Macmillan opened this fund in his memory to support undergraduate students who he loved to teach. Grants from this endowment supports outstanding achievement in a variety of areas including writing and teaching internships.

Burnham-Macmillan History Endowment Fund

Dr. Margaret Macmillan taught in the Department of History at WMU from 1920-34 and again from 1944-69. She was a Historian of America with an emphasis on religion. She made a gift from her estate to open this fund in memory of her father, Dr. Smith Burnham, the first Department of History chair. This fund aims to foster the intellectual and professional development of the department by supporting visiting lecturers, faculty travel expenses for research and professional presentations. This Endowment is fully funded and no donations are needed.

Dr. Sherwood Cordier Endowment for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching of History

Members of the History Advisory Council established this fund to recognize and honor Dr. Sherwood Cordier's contributions to teaching in the Department of History. Awards are given to students in the graduate program of the Department of History in recognition of excellence and innovation in the teaching of History.

History Emeriti Prize Fund

This fund was established by several emeritus colleagues of the department and is used in support of undergraduate students and to award outstanding student achievement. This fund especially supports the History Emeriti Fellows Program, which provides small grants, on a competitive basis, to outstanding undergraduate students seeking support for professional development. Recent recipients have used the support of this program to conduct archival research projects; attend regional and national meetings to present papers; and participate in public history internships in museums and historical sites.

Dr. Nora Faires Travel and Research Endowment

Dr. Nora Faires was an accomplished historian of migration studies, most recently Canadian migration. She also made a significant contribution to the graduate program, advising a number of M.A. and Ph.D. students. Knowing of her affinity for graduate work and the regard graduate students had for her—student’s raised money among themselves to create a small fund to award travel support in her name—friends of Faires opened this endowment to honor that graduate student initiative and to support graduate student travel to conduct and present research.

Dr. H. Nicholas Hamner Department of History Endowed Speakers Fund

Dr. Hamner joined the WMU Department of History in 1957, specializing in English and British history and worked until his retirement in 1992. As a loyal friend of the department he opened this fund in 1999 to support visiting speakers in the Department of History, bringing outstanding historians to speak on topics of interest in all fields of history.

Elmore L. and Ruth C. Haynor Endowed Scholarship for History

Elmore Haynor received his Bachelor of Arts in history from WMU in 1927. While a student, he experienced financial need and was assisted by a WMU Faculty member. To honor that generosity, he made a gift through his estate in 1996 to open this fund. This endowment supports a scholarship for undergraduate full time students enrolled in history experiencing financial need.

History Fellowship Award

Thanks to generous donations, the department awards renewable $1,000 fellowships to newly admitted, full-time freshman students with declared majors in history (Liberal Education Curriculum), public history, secondary education, history, or social studies (with a history minor option). A minimum 3.5 high school GPA is required at the time of application. The scholarship is renewable for up to four years provided that the awardee’s cumulative GPA does not drop below 3.5 and the student maintain full-time status as a major in the Department of History. The full award totals $4,000 and donations are requested in any increment. A $4,000 donation has naming opportunity and an introduction to the student recipient would be available.

Houdek/Haight History Fund for Returning Teachers

Dr. John Houdek taught in the history department for many years. When he retired he and his wife Caroline, who was a teacher, wanted to support school teachers returning to WMU to meet personal and professional development goals and gave money each year to help defray the cost of books, etc. Haight, retiring after 41 years in the department, many of them as a primary instructor of teacher preparation courses, asked that contributions to honor him be given for this same laudable purpose. To honor their dedication to teachers, in the making and those working in local schools, the department has established the Houdek/Haight Fund.

Dr. Catherine J. Julien Endowment for History

Developed in close consultation with Dr. Julien's daughter, Clara, the plan is to grow the fund into an endowment that will serve forever as fitting tribute to Julien, who was both a world-class scholar and a passionate and dedicated teacher. If contributions do not reach the required amount to establish an endowment, the department will create an account that can be expended from the original contributions with the hope that supporters will continue to contribute in the future. The fund will support students, either undergraduate or graduate, to advance their research in history with a preference for supporting graduate students and those students whose interests are in studying Latin America history and culture broadly defined, including its archaeology and its indigenous peoples.

Dr. Paul Maier Endowment for Ancient History

Dr. Maier is the first faculty member in the history of Western Michigan University to teach for half a century at this institution. As a tribute to his 50-year career invested in the teaching and scholarship of ancient history (he retired in 2011), the Department of History has established this fund, the purpose of which is to perpetuate and strengthen the study, teaching and research of ancient history at WMU. The fund will be used to, among other things, support undergraduate student projects in ancient history, make awards to students for outstanding work in ancient history and support graduate student travel for research in ancient history. More information.

Contributions have reached the minimum required amount to establish an active endowment, the Paul L. Maier Endowment in Ancient History, thus making the support of ancient history permanent at WMU. More donations are needed to make a bigger impact on the program and its students.

A. Edythe Mange Distinguished Scholarship in History

Dr. A. Edythe Mange was a professor of history at WMU from 1948 until her retirement in 1975. She specialized in Russian studies and was a proponent of international education. A gift from Mange’s estate established this fund in 1991 to support undergraduate and graduate student awards, with a particular emphasis on recognizing female students through the Edythe Mange Distinguished Student Scholarship.

Bert Nash Scholarship in History

Michele McLaughlin and her mother, Kathryn VanDis, have endowed a legacy gift that will support a new undergraduate scholarship for the department. It is named after McLaughlin's maternal grandfather, Bert Nash, and will support deserving undergraduate social studies majors who are deemed to be a promising teacher. More information.

Dr. Dale P. Pattison Endowment for History

Dr. Dale and Mrs. Kelley Pattison have supported the History Undergraduate Emeriti Fellows program for several years. The program funds undergraduate history majors and minors who engage in scholarly activities outside the classroom or who pursue opportunities that advance their professional goals as historians. Grants from this endowment fund are awarded to further research, encourage internship or volunteer experiences, defray the cost of travel to a scholarly conference, or in support of other scholarly or professional activities in history.

Werner & Nicki Taylor Marten Endowment Fund

Werner Marten received his undergraduate degree in history from WMU in 1968 and opened this fund in 1992. Grants support undergraduate and graduate student awards.

Joseph L. Peyser Endowment for the Study of New France

The endowment was created by J. Randall Peyser to honor the memory of his father Dr. Joseph L. Peyser, an eminent scholar of New France who wrote widely on the history and culture of the French in North America and, in particular, in the Great Lakes region. The Joseph L. Peyser Endowment provides financial assistance in support of research on the history and culture of the French in North America including: the history of the French presence in North America and in the Great Lakes region; the culture (language, arts, material culture, built environment) of the French in North America and in the Great Lakes region; the history and culture of Native peoples with whom the French interacted in North America and the Great Lakes region; the history of Native-French interactions in North America and the Great Lakes region. The endowment supports student research, faculty research, and organizations and programs promoting the study of New France. More information.

Peter J. Schmitt Endowment for Experiential Learning

Dr. Peter Schmitt taught for 43 years in the Department of History and he valued nontraditional learning experiences that explored the natural world, the built environment and human ingenuity. The friends and family of Schmitt created this endowment fund as a legacy to him. Fund grants will support varied learning experiences that enhance awareness, understanding and knowledge of the interconnectedness of history with the arts and the natural world. It would include but not be limited to participating in short courses in art or architectural history, in field biology learning experiences, in workshops in historic preservation or traditional crafts, in retreat experiences that emphasize an understanding of the natural world, or in other activities that promote personal insight into the interrelationships between people and their environments, especially in historical contexts. All members of the WMU community including emeriti and alumni are eligible for support from this fund.

D. C. and Zoa D. Shilling History Endowment

This fund was established in 1979 by Mrs. Zoa D. Schilling in honor of her late husband, Dr. D. Carl Shilling, a highly respected faculty member from 1921-52, who served as head of the Department of Political Science for seven years. (There is also a Schilling Endowment in the Department of Political Science. Professor Schilling was in the department at a time when political science and history were in a single department.) Funds from this endowment may be used for program development, scholarships and to award fellowships to graduate and undergraduate students.

History Graduate Student Award Quasi-Endowment (Judith Stone Endowment)

Dr. Judith Stone was a historian of Early Modern Europe with a special focus on the French Revolution. When she retired, WMU President Dieter H. Haenicke established a fund to provide an annual scholarship to graduate students who attain excellence in their program of study and who have an interest in European history.


Gifts may be made online to our funds:

Make a gift now

Contributions may also be made by check payable to: "WMU Foundation/History Department" (indicate in a note or on the check memo line the fund you wish to support).

Please mail donation checks to:

Department of History
Western Michigan University
1903 West Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5334 USA

If you would like to discuss making a contribution, please contact Dr. Linda Borish, department chair.