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Whirlpool supports new business degree

Nov. 8, 2005

BENTON HARBOR, Mich.--Whirlpool Corp. employees and others interested in pursuing careers in business have a new opportunity for advancement in the Berrien County area, thanks to an addition to the bachelor's degree offerings at Western Michigan University-Southwest.

Area residents will be able to earn a bachelor's degree in business close to home, beginning in 2006. The initiative is the outcome of a partnership between WMU, Lake Michigan College and Whirlpool. The company will allow its employees to take the first half of the business administration curriculum at LMC, then, after earning an LMC associate's degree, continue at WMU to earn a BBA--a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.

Whirlpool is expanding an existing relationship with LMC that has resulted in more than 200 of its Twin Cities employees enrolling at LMC to pursue an associate's degree in business--an ABA. Through its Best Ticket in Town program, the Benton Harbor-based company pays for tuition costs up-front for its employees who enroll in LMC's business administration program. With approximately 30 of its Twin Cities employees more than half way toward earning a two-year degree, the company intends to expand that commitment for its employees who continue on at WMU to receive bachelor's degrees as part of Whirlpool's educational reimbursement program.

"Our employees are critical to the success of our business and we believe education is critical to the development of our employees," says Kathy Nelson, vice president and general manager, Customer and Appliance Care-NAR, Whirlpool Corp. "While this partnership with LMC and WMU makes it easier for more of our employees to obtain a college education, we are pleased that this partnership also makes it more convenient for other local residents to pursue a bachelor's of business administration."

The BBA program at WMU-Southwest, which will have a management focus, will be the third complete bachelor's degree program offered in the area by WMU. The Whirlpool commitment and anticipated employee participation will provide a base for building a strong program that is open to other area residents as well.

"We are absolutely delighted to be able to partner with Whirlpool and LMC in a way that not only fills Whirlpool's future work force needs, but also expands opportunities for students throughout the community," says Dr. Judith I. Bailey, president of WMU. "Michigan needs more college graduates ready to take on the business challenges of the future. This initiative will help us both meet that goal and specifically address the needs of one of our state's major employers."

BBA courses will be taught at WMU-Southwest, located on Napier Avenue in Benton Harbor. Faculty members from WMU's renowned Haworth College of Business will commute to the University's Southwest location to teach courses in the degree program, which is now offered on the main campus in Kalamazoo. The WMU facility on the LMC campus opened in 2002. The proximity of LMC and WMU allows students from both institutions to share resources and achieve their higher education goals close to home.

"The seamless transition from the associate's degree in business administration LMC offers to the bachelor's degree program at WMU-Southwest makes this very accessible to the working adults of our region who want to further their careers," states LMC Interim President Robert Harrison. "This is an important next step in our valuable relationship with both Western Michigan University and Whirlpool Corporation."

The inaugural courses of the BBA program begin in January 2006, and registration is currently under way. Those who hold an ABA degree, are currently enrolled in LMC's ABA program or are interested in beginning their work toward a business administration degree are encouraged to explore the opportunities presented in this cooperative degree program by attending an informational open house, which will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14, at WMU-Southwest on LMC's Napier Avenue campus. Those interested in attending the session can contact Leonard Seawood, director of WMU-Southwest, at (269) 934-1500.

Informational sessions for Whirlpool employees will be held the week of Nov. 14 at Whirlpool facilities throughout the Twin Cities.

About Lake Michigan College

Lake Michigan College is a two-year community college with four campuses in Benton Harbor, Niles and South Haven, Michigan. It serves over 7,000 students annually and offers a wide range of one- and two-year occupational programs as well as programs designed to transfer to four-year institutions. Further information about LMC can be found at www.lakemichigancollege.edu.

About Whirlpool Corp.

Whirlpool Corporation is the world's leading manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances, with annual sales of over $13 billion, 68,000 employees, and nearly 50 manufacturing and technology research centers around the globe. The company markets Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Brastemp, Bauknecht, Consul and other major brand names to consumers in more than 170 countries. Additional information about the company can be found on the Internet at www.whirlpoolcorp.com.

About Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University is a vibrant, nationally recognized student-centered research university with more than 26,000 enrolled at its main campus in Kalamazoo and at eight regional campuses around the state. WMU is focused on delivering high-quality undergraduate instruction, advancing its growing graduate division and fostering significant research activities. For more information about academic programs, research or cultural and athletic activities visit www.wmich.edu.

Media contact: Amy Routhier (269) 387-4160, amy.routhier@wmich.edu

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