A photo of Zabihullah Najafi, Sierra Ward and Jessica Cortes.

Empowered to thrive

Access, community, opportunity and tenacity—introducing Western's Empowering Futures Scholarships

Dear friends,

Opportunity. It’s a word that you’ll find used widely in ad campaigns and recruiting brochures. It can make you look for the fine print or wonder what the catch is. At Western, it’s more than a word—it’s a motivation for our work and a promise to our students. I hear it frequently when I meet with alumni who eagerly tell me how Western offered them opportunity they couldn’t find elsewhere or when students share their excitement about the future, thanks to the possibilities they’ve discovered with us.

Our focus on and success in providing opportunity inspired the donors who chose to establish the Empowering Futures Gift. Their awe-inspiring $550 million contribution announced this past summer was the largest donation for a public university in U.S. history. That generous gift is focused on enabling Western to offer opportunities that will remove barriers for generations of students who might have thought a college education was out of reach or those facing challenges that threaten to derail their dreams. The gift allows for a significant expansion of need-based financial assistance for tuition and housing as well as gap funding for degree completion. We’ll also elevate career exploration and development activities like internships, practicums and co-ops; bolster health and well-being support; and undergird it all with faculty committed to student success and creative scholarship.

Opportunity is what Western offered to Dr. Merze Tate when other universities would not. We named our new University College in honor of this first Black woman to earn a bachelor’s degree here. And I know the students who walk through the doors of Merze Tate College, like Dr. Tate herself, will find the guidance and range of new opportunities that will inspire them to discover their own purpose and set their own future course. Read more about the new Merze Tate College and how its career exploration, academic advising and full complement of services support student achievement.

It’s a great time to be at Western—a place that has long focused on student success as it takes its promise “so that all may learn” to a new level. That’s what’s so exciting about these forward-looking activities—we are building on the foundation that we’ve already established to envision a future that’s open to every student who wants the chance to discover their purpose and develop a vision for a rich and rewarding life journey. Fulfilling that promise takes a community that shares a common goal and is prepared to join with us to dream, plan and take action. And the best part? There is always room for people who want to be part of our work to expand on our promise of providing that opportunity.

I hope you’ll be among them.


Edward Montgomery, Ph.D.

  • Video of Western Michigan University announces Empowering Futures Scholarships

    Empowering Futures announcement

    President Montgomery celebrates the Dec. 9, 2021, announcement of the Empowering Futures Scholarships at the Michigan Science Center in Detroit alongside Tennie Jackson, ‘20 alumna and Seita Scholar, and Lisa Williams, WMU Alumni Association vice president.

University News

  • Students sitting at a table in a classroom.

    The Grand Rapids Southeast Promise Neighborhood Project, funded at roughly $6 million a year, will address a pipeline of 14 evidence-based solutions for student success, including school readiness, literacy and math success, transitions to middle and high school, post-secondary preparation, and a variety of student and family health and security targets.

Always Dream Bigger

  • A portrait of Dr. Merze Tate

    Introducing Merze Tate College

    Dr. Merze Tate saw boundless possibilities in a world where the odds were stacked against her; she refused to sit in the mold society created for her and instead set out to conquer her dreams and explore the world. Western is honoring Tate’s legacy by naming the academic home for exploratory majors after the inspirational alumna who was a scholar, world traveler, journalist, author and disarmament specialist who advised world leaders.

    Explore the new college

A Campus in Transformation

We’re transforming campus to meet the needs of today’s students. The favorite parts of campus remain but we’ve added a few new additions.

  • A portrait of Abondance Kibadi

    Sweet sounds of Western

    Rattling silverware, clanking cups and the pitter-patter of water splashing off plates isn’t exactly music to the ears, but it’s a sink-side symphony Abondance Kibadi hasn’t always had the opportunity to fully appreciate. He’s experiencing it all now at his Dining Services job after receiving some new hardware: high-tech hearing aids.

    Learn how several people worked in concert to help him hear

  • A student holds an insole equipped with sensor technology.

    Saving limbs and lives

    Diabetes is a national concern, affecting more than one in 10 Americans. Among the many health challenges it causes, the disease can put patients at risk for dangerous foot ulcers and lower limb amputations. But innovative research at Western Michigan University that accelerates healing could be a game-changer.

    Read about the innovation

  • Henry Lee looks over Lego sets he's constructed.

    Lego by Lego

    Henry Lee is using tiny pieces to dream big for his future. His Lego theatrical creations caught the eye of the New York Public Library, leading to his own exhibit.

    Learn how he took his pandemic project to the next level

  • Students sit around a table looking out windows at an airplane.

    Propelling into the future

    Expanding not only the number of students the College of Aviation can accommodate but also debuting first-of-its-kind technology and training opportunities, the new Aviation Education Center is filling a critical need.

    Take a tour

Expert Insights

  • Power lines against a dark, cloudy sky.

    Power outages are happening more frequently and for longer time periods across the country, spurred by the combination of more extreme weather events— from heat waves to wildfires to hurricanes—and an aging energy infrastructure. It's a race against time to transition to renewable energy as the window to reverse the damage done by carbon emissions continues to close, says Dr. Pablo Gomez, associate professor of electrical engineering and director of the WMU Power Lab.


Pop-up percussion: A flash mob performance of "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" from the Bronco Marching Band captures the attention of students as they make their way through Sangren Hall. Also on the playlist: the alma mater and fight song.


Alumni Profile