Western Michigan University (WMU) has received a staggering $550 million donation — the largest ever for a public university in the country.
The anonymous contribution surpasses the $500 million gift to the University of Oregon by Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife Penny in 2016.
The donors “have chosen not to be named,” WMU President Edward Montgomery announced. The generous donation will be known as the Empowering Futures Gift and will be paid out over 10 years.
“This gift is an important step in leveling the playing field and putting quality education in reach for students from historically underrepresented populations,” President Montgomery said.
WMU will divide the money among three main sections: $300 million for the Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, $200 million toward university initiatives such as scholarships and need-based aid, and $50 million for the school’s athletic programs, which suffered massive cuts due to the pandemic.
The school of medicine will use the funding to provide more students with full scholarships, foster innovation, and improve diversity within the medical program. The athletic department will increase student-centered initiatives and create collaborative opportunities for student-athletes.
School officials said the funding would also help them hire new faculty, introduce mental health programs, and increase access to education for underserved communities..
The money isn’t “about filling gaps, it’s about creating opportunities,” President Montgomery said, adding how the gift “will catalyze opportunities that will change the condition and transform lives for generations to come.”