WMU News

WMU tops $125-million goal, continues centennial campaign

May 22, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- With the original goal of $125 million already in hand, Western Michigan University officials pledged to vigorously seek additional support in the remaining seven months of the University's centennial capital campaign.

Reporting at yesterday's meeting of the WMU Foundation Board of Directors, campaign Chair William U. Parfet announced that the total of gifts and commitments to the campaign stands at $125.4 million and said that the campaign will continue through Dec. 31, as originally planned.

Launched July 1, 1998, WMU's centennial fund-raising drive had raised $75 million by the time the campaign was publicly announced in August 2001. By the end of the fourth year of the campaign, June 30, 2002, the total of gifts and commitments had risen to $110 million, and by
Dec. 31, 2002, the total stood at more than $117 million.

"Our alumni and friends have stepped up to support this great University in a grander fashion than ever before," said Parfet, who is chairman and chief executive officer of MPI Research. He noted that the $125 million raised to date is more than twice the total raised in WMU's previous campaign, concluded in 1992. Parfet also led that effort.

"We have tremendous momentum right now," said Parfet. "We need to keep that going, because in a real sense, this campaign launches WMU into its second century. The more successful the campaign is, the stronger the University will be as a resource for education, research and economic development as it begins its next 100 years of service to the community, state and nation."

Interim WMU President Daniel M. Litynski also emphasized the importance of pursuing private support, especially with the budget constraints and economic difficulties facing Michigan and higher education in general.

"This year, for the first time in our history, support from the state accounts for less than one-half of our operating budget," said Litynski. "Private support has played an enormous role in the emergence of WMU as a nationally and internationally regarded university, and if we are to continue our rise among the top universities in America, it is going to be through the generous support of our many friends and alumni.

"There's a tremendous amount of pride and excitement about our University right now, because of the centennial celebration and the recent appointment of our new president, Dr. Judith Bailey. I believe that our alumni and friends are going to respond very positively to the challenge of making the centennial campaign a resounding success," said Litynski.

"I applaud the campaign leadership and the many volunteers and donors who made today's announcement possible," said President-elect Bailey in a prepared statement read at the foundation meeting. "I gratefully acknowledge the leadership provided to this effort by former President Floyd and Interim President Litynski, and I am very much looking forward to doing my part in making the conclusion of this campaign the crowning achievement of our centennial celebration."

While the total raised exceeds the overall goal of $125 million, there are some specific areas within the campaign that have not yet been fully funded, said William D. Johnston, president and CEO of Greenleaf Trust, who serves as WMU Foundation president.

"That's another reason why we aren't declaring the campaign over," said Johnston. "We plan to use these next seven months to place increased emphasis on those areas where additional funds are needed. That includes each of our capital building projects.

"We would also like to add more endowed faculty positions. Support for the faculty becomes more important every year. If the quality of the University is to continue to grow, WMU has to be able to reward and retain its best teachers and researchers, and it has to have the means to attract top new people."

The across-campus priorities addressed in the campaign are divided into five areas.

Support for students includes scholarships, fellowships and "experiential learning," such as internships in business, government and the arts.

Support for faculty includes endowed faculty positions intended to attract and retain top teachers and researchers in key fields in which WMU has a developing national reputation.

Programs and activities includes the Visiting Artists and Scholars program, which annually brings experts and artists of international renown to the campus.

Equipment funding is sought for all areas of the University, but particularly for engineering, the sciences, health and human services and the performing arts.

Facilities needs include major new buildings for engineering and athletics, health and human services, and a new building for the Department of Art.

Twenty-five donors have contributed $1 million or more to the campaign for a combined total of $84 million, or two-thirds of the $125.4 million raised to date. The largest single gift to the campaign--and largest in school history--was $13 million from the estate of alumna and famed Michigan naturalist Gwen Frostic. A partial list of other major contributors includes the Fred A. and Isabel J. Beeler Estate, Borgess Health Alliance, Bronson Healthcare Group, Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, Kalamazoo Community Foundation, Dorotha Kercher Estate, Julie and Kenneth V. Miller, Doretha and Frederic Mortimore, National City Bank of Michigan/Illinois, Barbara A. and William U. Parfet, and Ronda E. Stryker and William D. Johnston Foundation.

Media contact: Thom Myers, 269 387-8400, thom.myers@wmich.edu

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