Donald M. Jackson Memorial Endowed Scholarship in Coaching Sport Performance

Eligible majors

M.A. in sports coaching (formerly coaching sport performance or sport studies).


  • Recipient must be a certified teacher/coach pursuing a master’s degree in sports coaching (may be enrolled as either a full- or part-time student).
  • Preference shall be given to applicants who are currently employed in the state of Michigan and have a demonstrated performance record in providing service to the community.
  • Preference shall be given to eligible students who demonstrate financial aid (as determined by Office of Financial Aid) and have a minimum of 3.0 cumulative GPA at the time of application.

Award amount

To be determined by Western Michigan University's Department of Human Performance and Health Education.

Additional information

Decisions on the award are made during the spring semester. Half of the award funds are disbursed to the student’s account during the following fall semester and the other half is disbursed during the following spring semester. The student must have part-time or full-time status and be a certified teacher/coach during these semesters for the award funds to be disbursed.

About Donald Merrill Jackson

Donald Merrill Jackson, who passed away in April 2005 at the age of 73, was a legendary figure in Michigan high school basketball and the greater Kalamazoo community. Coach Jackson was a native of Quincy, Illinois, and attended Illinois State Normal University and Western Illinois University, graduating in 1958 with a B.S. degree in physical education. Additional work at the graduate level was done at Western Michigan University after moving to Kalamazoo in 1960.

His first teaching position in the Kalamazoo Public Schools was at Edison Elementary School. He later went on to Lincoln Junior High School where he worked with special needs students and began what would become a storied career as a basketball coach. In 1967, he moved on to Hackett Catholic Central High School, where he taught history and coached a variety of sports. At Hackett, he guided a talented team to the state basketball finals in 1969. In 1970, Jackson returned to the public school system as a teacher and head basketball coach at Kalamazoo Central High School, becoming the first African American to coach at the high school level in the school system. In his first season at Kalamazoo Central, his team had a 21-3 record and reached the Class A state semifinals. His career at Kalamazoo Central spanned a record 24 years, where his teams won championships at every level.

Jackson received a special tribute from the 87th Legislature of the State of Michigan in 1994 for his contributions as a coach and educator. He received numerous honors throughout his career including being named to the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan (BCAM), Michigan High School Coaches and the Kalamazoo Central High School Athletic (Inaugural Class) Halls of Fame.

Jackson’s involvement with youth went far beyond the basketball court. He was employed with the Douglas Community Association for over 40 years, where he helped develop an intergenerational program employing youth to work on the homes of seniors. In this endeavor and many others, Jackson worked with the Kalamazoo Foundation, city government and several other public and private donors to create and sustain numerous projects and scholarships for youth.

To pay tribute to the legacy of Jackson, family members, colleagues, former student-athletes and friends established a permanently endowed scholarship for the benefit of graduate students who are active teacher/coaches pursuing a master’s degree in coaching sport performance at WMU.