WMU News

Centennial Campaign brings in more than $162 million

Feb. 27, 2004

KALAMAZOO--Exceeding its original campaign goal by $37.8 million, Western Michigan University closed the books on its Centennial Campaign with more than $162 million raised.

"Private support is critical to the University's continued progress," says WMU President Judith I. Bailey. "Contributions made through the Centennial Campaign are already giving us a competitive edge, supporting academic excellence and helping countless individual students fulfill their educational goals and pursue their dreams. Campaign gifts are funding initiatives that will position our University for even greater accomplishments and service in its second century.

"We are deeply grateful to the nearly 50,000 alumni and friends of the University who contributed to this record-setting campaign. It is clear that the future of our University will be shaped increasingly by private support, through the generosity of those who know us best."

Officially begun July 1, 1998, "Partnering for Success: the Centennial Campaign for Western Michigan University" surpassed its original goal of $125 million in May 2003. Fund raising continued through Dec. 31, as originally planned, and campaign chair William U. Parfet called on donors to use the remaining months of the campaign to put WMU "over the top in dramatic fashion." Donors responded with more than $37 million in additional gifts and commitments.

In the final month of WMU's campaign, December 2003, the University received more than $15.8 million in gifts and commitments. That one-month total is more than double the $7.3 million raised in all three years of the University's first comprehensive campaign, just 22 years ago.

"There are several reasons for the campaign's success," says Parfet. "Western has touched so many lives in so many positive ways. Wherever I travel, I meet people with ties to this area or the University, and they always talk in glowing terms about Western. Those warm feelings have increasingly translated into generous gifts--especially during the past decade and especially among alumni.

"Credit for the increased support goes to the campaign volunteers and development staff, who have done an extraordinary job of explaining the vital role of private support at WMU. A tremendous amount of credit also goes to the WMU Foundation, which has built donor confidence through sound fiscal management and prudent stewardship of funds. Donors understand and have confidence that their gifts will be invested wisely and used for the purposes they intended.

"And foremost among the reasons for the campaign's success is the University's leadership, which has provided a vision for the future that is worthy of support and has guided WMU to growing stature and success."

Parfet, who is chairman and chief executive officer of MPI Research, has chaired both of the University's past two campaigns. The previous campaign concluded in 1992 and raised $62.5 million.

Centennial Campaign highlights were reported by Bud Bender, WMU vice president for development, at the Feb. 27 meeting of the WMU Board of Trustees. Among the results reported by Bender were:

WMU's Centennial Campaign raised $162,844,123.

The campaign exceeded the original goal by $37.8 million or 30 percent.

A total of 49,972 donors contributed to the campaign.

There were 47 gifts of $1 million or more, accounting for $98.4 million or 60 percent of the total raised.

There were 780 gifts of $10,000 or more, for a total of $149.2 million. Less than 2 percent of the donors contributed more than 91 percent of the campaign total.

The largest gift to the campaign and largest in WMU history was $12.6 million from the estate of alumna Gwen Frostic.

A total of 149 new endowments were created, adding $38 million to the University's endowments.

There were 31 new Medallion Scholarships funded.

Support for the general academic mission accounted for 93 percent of all gifts.
The remaining 7 percent, or $11.3 million, was designated for varsity athletics.

Contributions were received from all 50 U.S. states, Guam, Puerto Rico and the
U.S. Virgin Islands, and from 17 other countries around the globe.

There have been fund drives for specific projects at WMU dating back to shortly after the school was founded in 1903. There have been, however, only three comprehensive capital campaigns--covering broad areas of the University. All three have been in the past 25 years at intervals of approximately 10 years. It is unlikely the University will wait 10 years to launch its next major campaign, according to Bender, who also serves as executive director of the WMU Foundation.

"Greater success breeds greater expectations. That is true in almost every endeavor, but it is especially true in fund raising," says Bender. "We have had remarkable success in building the level of private support during the 27 years of the WMU Foundation, and there is a justifiable expectation of even greater support in the years ahead.

"Even before the erosion of state support, it was obvious that we would need to begin our next major campaign sooner rather than later. President Bailey and the trustees are committed to several initiatives vital to our mission and to continuing to elevate the quality of the experience and education offered at WMU. We are very confident that our alumni and friends will respond favorably--as they did in this campaign--to a university that is committed to the pursuit of excellence."

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

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