WMU News

Father of Medallion Scholarships, Mike Kemp, dies

May 28, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- J. Michael Kemp, a past member of the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees and former director of the WMU Foundation, who is credited with the creation of the University's Medallion Scholarship program, died Friday, May 23, in Bayfield, Ontario. He was 59.

Kemp was a member of the Board of Trustees for eight years, 1975-82, and served as a director of the WMU Foundation for nine years, 1984-93. He also served as an adjunct professor of government regulation in WMU's Haworth College of Business.

Kemp is best remembered for his leadership in creating the University's Medallion Scholarship program. About 800 high school seniors each year come to WMU's campus to compete for the $32,000 scholarships. Since the Medallion Scholarship competition began in 1984, about $80 million in four-year scholarships has been offered to more than 14,000 students.

At commencement ceremonies in 1984, then-President John T. Bernhard presented Kemp with the WMU Distinguished Service Award. He also received fund-raising volunteer-of-the-year awards from the WMU Foundation, in 1986, and from the Michigan Chapter of the National Society of Fund-Raising Executives, in 1985.

During most of his active service to the University, Kemp was an attorney with Howard & Howard Attorneys in Kalamazoo. In 1980, he became managing partner of the firm and served in that capacity for 19 years. During his tenure, the firm grew from a small office of 10 lawyers in Kalamazoo to one with more than 100 lawyers and several offices throughout lower Michigan.

Kemp also served during the 1980s as chairman of fund raising for the Greater Kalamazoo United Way and served on the board of directors of First America Bank, now National City.

Kemp was born Jan. 3, 1944, in St. Charles, Ill. He attended Lakeview High School in Battle Creek, Mich., and earned a bachelor's degree with honors in American history from Michigan State University in 1965. He received a Juris Doctorate degree with honors from George Washington University School of Law in 1968.

Kemp and his wife, Toni, who survives him, retired to Bayfield in 1998.

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

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