KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Western Michigan University says a massive donation announced over the summer will back 1,350 scholarship and aid programs totaling $2.4 million in only the first year of use.
That includes 340 new Bronco Promise scholarships to be awarded ahead of the 2022-23 school year. They will cover all of recipients’ tuition for up to five years. Recipients will be freshmen from Michigan whose families’ annual household incomes are less than $50,000.
In following years, WMU expects to award 600 Bronco Promise scholarships annually.
WMU will also award $6,000 housing support scholarships to 110 freshmen each year.
Applications for the new scholarships are due Feb. 15, 2022. Recipients will be informed in March 2022. All Michigan residents can apply, but WMU says preference will be given to Kalamazoo Public Schools graduates or students with a Grand Rapids or Detroit address.
Other aid includes internship stipends of up to $3,600 for as many as 100 students per year and up to $1,000 in graduation scholarships for as many as 800 upper-level students each year. The university says that’s twice as many graduation scholarships as currently offered.
“A core goal of our generous donors and their incredible philanthropy is enhancing student outcomes in an inclusive and equitable way,” WMU President Edward Montgomery said during a Thursday press conference in Grand Rapids. “We are investing the Empowering Futures Gift in an ecosystem of support that reduces barriers on many fronts that include affordability as well as enhanced community belonging and experiential learning.”
WMU announced the $550 million gift — believed to be the largest single donation to any public university in the country ever — in June. The money is coming from anonymous alumni. It is being split between WMU, which is getting $200 million over the next decade; the WMU Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, which is getting $300 million; and the athletic department, which is getting $50 million.
The university said its goals in using the cash would be improving equity on campus and supporting more low-income students and those of color.
The Empowering Futures Gift isn’t covering the entirety of the Bronco Promise. Rather, it will cover about $1,200 within each recipients’ first two years and allow the rest of the tuition of be covered by other aid dollars.
The WMU AAUP, a union that represents faculty, is expected to decide on a no confidence vote for WMU leadership Friday.
President Montgomery declined to comment on the vote Thursday night.
“I respect that AAUP is going through a process but my focus is on our students and their experience and that’s why we’ve been doing what we’re doing today,” Montogomery said.
In a list of concerns on its website, the union cites a continuing drop in enrollment, a decline in WMU’s academic rankings, academic program restructuring without widespread input, and a drop in employee morale.
It also cites the university’s rebranding campaign, which included reducing the use of the popular ghost bronco logo.
—News 8’s Kyle Mitchell and Luke Laster contributed to this report.