An athlete rides a sled down an icy luge track. Photo courtesy Miriam Jennewein.

Elite Seat

From an icy ride down the luge track to a full ride to Western, Team USA's Torrey Cookman has his eyes on the (brown and) gold.

Dear friends and colleagues,

Western Michigan University is home to remarkably gifted students. We take pride in educating, supporting and applauding them as they leverage their talents to realize their dreams and ambitions. This semester, the Bronco student highlighted on the cover has taken his talents to international heights.

Torrey Cookman is a Medallion Scholar, a member of Lee Honors College, a mechanical engineering student and an international luge competitor. This semester Torrey has competed in international luge competitions in Italy, Austria, Germany and Romania against top athletes from around the world. There is no doubt he has the tenacity, endurance and high-level training to perform on the world stage. And what’s more impressive is this honor student is concurrently using those same attributes to remain at the top of his game academically. He’s advancing in his studies even as he competes at the most elite athletic levels.

A group photo of students on stage.

Members of United Sound on stage at the Midwest Clinic. (Courtesy: John Reichanadter)

At Western, we encourage students to pursue their purpose at all stages of life and in all possible ways. They’re not waiting to make their impact on the world. Torrey is going after greatness one luge track at a time as a scholar-athlete. Other students are striving for excellence and achieving it in other realms.

In this edition, you’ll also read about United Sound, a student group that recently performed with the United States Navy Band in Chicago at the largest instrumental music education conference in the world. Playing alongside our students for this major opportunity were their own musical mentees, as United Sound helps young adults with disabilities learn to play instruments. Tutored by our Broncos, the program participants displayed their burgeoning musicianship on a big stage to an adoring crowd—an experience everyone involved can cherish for a lifetime.

While their peers are helping budding musicians build skills, rising Bronco entrepreneurs are working to build businesses through the Starting Gate student business accelerator. The program is celebrating 10 years. Like those before them, the 2022-23 cohort has developed all kinds of creative ways to meet consumer needs—and not just after graduation but today.

Whether our students are living out their own dreams, finding new ways to help others succeed or just getting equipped to launch the next big idea in business, our Broncos are making their mark while preparing for lives and careers that are rich and rewarding.


Edward Montgomery, PhD

A woman carrying a bucket walks through a greenhouse filled with plants.

Western Oasis

Tucked away amid the frosty chill of Main Campus is a summertime getaway in Wood Hall’s Finch Greenhouse. This tropical paradise provides a state-of-the-art space and services to students in the Department of Biological Sciences to conduct plant research. It was made possible by the generous gift of Francis and Geraldine Finch.

Innovative Ideas

Students look into a mirror.

Making Magic

WMU Theatre students shine bright like the spotlight backstage for "Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea," just one of nine shows featured in the 2022-23 season.

Alumni Profile

  • M. Scott Johnson sits on the red seats of an empty theatre.

    M. Scott Johnson came to Western as a member of the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholars Academy and began exploring disciplines across campus, including anthropology, history, geography and theology. He built on that foundation, along with impressive apprenticeships, to become a sought-after artist.

University News

  • Lance Taylor wears a WMU baseball cap and hockey jersey and cheers in the Lawson Lunatics section of Lawson Arena.

    Lance and the Lunatics

    Western's new head football coach, Lance Taylor, took in a campus tradition shortly after arriving. He joined the Lawson Lunatics to cheer on our elite hockey team.

    Learn more about the new coach

  • A portrait of Dr. Traci Brimhall leaning on a tree stump in an outdoor setting.

    Passion for poetry

    Alumna Dr. Traci Brimhall was recently named Kansas Poet Laureate, allowing her to take charge of public readings, workshops, lectures and presentations that will benefit communities throughout the state.

    Read about the prestigious honor

Linda Lesniak leans against a brick wall outside of Heritage Hall.

Why I Give

I want everyone, but especially young women, to have dreams and goals. And I don't want talent to go to waste because of gender stereotypes that limit the dreams of young women or because there’s no one to reach out and encourage and help with finances.

Linda Lesniak, BA '70, MA '71, PhD '74

  • Skyy Moore and Mike Caliendo celebrate on the field after their Super Bowl victory. Photo credit Steve Sanders, Kansas City Chiefs.

    Super Bowl champs

    Broncos make an impact wherever they go—including pro football's biggest night! Western football alumni Skyy Moore and Mike Caliendo both scored Super Bowl rings after their Kansas City Chiefs beat the Philadelphia Eagles. (Photo credit Steve Sanders, Kansas City Chiefs)