The excitement was palpable Tuesday afternoon as Western Michigan University President Dr. Edward Montgomery announced the Empowering Futures Gift. The school has received the largest largest private gift ever to a public university, totaling $550 Million dollars, over a ten year period.

There were big smiles, even giggles from the speakers. WMU Board of Trustees Chairperson Lynn Chen-Zhang momentarily becoming emotional when describing the gift, saying "I've seen big checks. This is the biggest check I've ever seen."

But perhaps the most powerful comment came from the new dean of WMed (the Homer Stryker School of Medicine), Dr. Paula M. Termuhlen, who said she had just finished paying off her student loans in April as she arrived at WMU. $300 Million of the gift is earmarked for the medical school and will make it possible for more students, from diverse backgrounds, to be able to afford to go to medical school.

$50 Million is going to the athletic department, as long time Athletic Director Kathy Beauregard remarks pointed out,

"The Empowering Futures Gift will help bolster our efforts to support student-athletes who come to Western from all over the world to excel in their chosen sport and perform well in the classroom. Our Broncos are absolutely going to get an opportunity of a lifetime to come and play the sport they love, be mentored by coaches that are some of the best in the country and grow through the many opportunities available at Western—in our classrooms, through internships and, ultimately, their careers after they graduate." - WMU AD Kathy Beauregard

All this hasn't escaped the attention of the national media, with the Washington Post, which said not bad for a Michigan school not located in Ann Arbor or East Lansing. The story points out that while this gift doubles WMU's endowments and certainly isn't chump changes, the big schools still have a ton of endowment money.

But those big grins are because Western got a gift of over half a billion, with B.

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