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President's Challenge raises $40.7 million for student financial aid and professorships

  • Contact Nancy Connell

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The President's Donor Challenge, established to increase support for need-based student financial aid and endowed professorships, has raised more than $40.7 million in just eight months.

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman created the challenge in October to give impetus to two major priorities in the last half of The Michigan Difference, the University's $2.5 billion fund-raising campaign.

"A strong faculty and an exceptional student body are the foundation of a University of Michigan education. Donors who have responded to this challenge to support endowed professorships and need-based scholarships are ensuring a vibrant future for the University," Coleman said. "I am grateful for their foresight, their generosity and their deep dedication to our students and faculty."

Financial aid

The President's Challenge has raised $12.2 million from 3,563 donors to provide aid to students based on their financial need. Coleman provides a match for each donor gift in this component of the challenge, giving the gifts to date a total impact of more than $24.4 million.

"We are dedicated to ensuring that financial circumstances will not stand in the way of a Michigan education," Provost Teresa Sullivan said. "We are working on many fronts to increase financial aid to students, and to make students and their families aware of the various financial assistance programs that are available."

U-M provides scholarships and other forms of assistance sufficient to meet the full need of undergraduates who are Michigan residents. The new M-PACT program increases the scholarships and reduces the loans that make up aid to Michigan students. In addition, U-M was one of a handful of top colleges chosen last year to participate in the Jack Kent Cooke program designed to provide scholarships to community college students.

Major gifts toward student financial aid include:

  • $3 million from the principal owner of the New York Mets, Fred Wilpon (1958), and his wife Judy (1958). The gift is one component a $12 million gift from the Wilpon Family Foundation that also included $5 million to create the Sport Injury Prevention Center and $4 million to rebuild the baseball and softball stadiums.
  • $1 million from William Brehm, (1950) (1952). His gift will provide financial aid to graduates of Fordson High School in Dearborn. Brehm, a 1947 graduate of Fordson, and his wife, Dee, earlier provided a gift of $44 million to support Type 1 diabetes research.
  • $500,000 from television news icon Mike Wallace (1939) (1987). Wallace provided an unrestricted gift for Coleman to allocate at her discretion. The president directed the gift to need-based scholarships. Wallace's earlier giving includes a $2 million gift to the Knight Wallace Fellows program for program support, as well as gifts for a fellowship in investigative reporting and for the building that houses the journalism program.
  • $405,000 from Latricia Turner (1977) and her husband Tom McConnell. The gift will provide support to transfer students from junior colleges and community colleges.

The Faculty Senate has created the U-M Faculty Undergraduate Scholarship for need-based aid that is participating in the President's Challenge. To date, 55 faculty gifts have been received, totaling $25,000, including lead gifts of $5,000 from pharmacology professor Charles B. Smith, chair of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA) and his wife, Peggie Hollingsworth, emerita research scientist and former SACUA chair, $5,000 from emeritus psychology professor Donald Brown and his wife, June, and $10,000 from Noboru Kikuchi, the Roger L. McCarthy Professor of Mechanical Engineering.


The President's Challenge has raised $28.5 million from 19 donors to create 19 fully endowed professorships, out of a goal of 20. The professorships cover a wide range of schools and disciplines, and demonstrate the breadth of donors' interests.

"The new professorships are critical to the University's ability to recruit and retain the highly accomplished scholars and teachers whose talents and creativity enable U-M to fulfill its mission," Sullivan said. "Top quality faculty offer students the very best educational experience and engage in the leading edge research that opens new opportunities in every area of the human endeavor."

The challenge program provides that when a donor provides a gift of $1.5 million, the president matches it with $500,000 to reach the $2 million needed to create an endowed professorship. When U-M receives the first $500,000 donor payment, it matches it with $500,000 from the president's fund and creates the professorship. The President's Challenge for professorships will continue until the goal of 20 professorships is reached, or Dec. 31, 2007, whichever comes first. The donors and professorships are:

  • The Family of Joseph B. and Florence V. Cejka created the Joseph B. and Florence V. Cejka Professor of Engineering.
  • John L. Tishman, (1946) (2000) created the John L. Tishman Professorship of Engineering.
  • John F. Nickoll, (1960) created the John F. Nickoll Professor of Law.
  • Dr. George A. Dean created the George A. Dean, M.D. Family Medicine Chair for the faculty member who is the chair of the Department of Family Medicine.
  • Dr. George A. Skestos (1948) (1951) (1952), created the Frances and George Skestos Professorship (in the Law School), for a faculty member in the areas of contract or commercial law.
  • David S. (1985) and Joan E. Evans (1987) created the Louis Evans Professorship to establish a professorship in American history in LSA.
  • Robert A. Gregg (1940) (1943) created the Robert A. Gregg Professorship in the Department of Chemistry, LSA.
  • James R. (1959) (1961) (1961) (1963) and Judith W. Street created the James and Judith Street Professorship of Chemical Engineering
  • Allen Sinai (1961) created the Allen Sinai Professorship of Macroeconomics in the Department of Economics, LSA, and in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.
  • Frederic Hoch created the Martha L. Ludwig Professorship in Protein Structure and Function in the Medical School. Hoch, U-M professor emeritus of internal medicine and biological chemistry, was married to the late Professor Ludwig for 45 years. 
  • Susan M. Smith (1963) created the Susan Meredith Smith Professorship in Actuarial Sciences in the Department of Mathematics, LSA
  • Vincent T. (1941) and Gloria M. Gorguze created the Vincent T. and Gloria M. Gorguze Professorship of Engineering
  • NSF International created the NSF International Department Chair in Environmental Health Science in the School of Public Health in recognition of the birthplace of NSF International. 
  • David Barger created the Endowed Professorship for the Organizational Studies Program in LSA for a faculty member who will teach and act as the Director of the Barger Leadership Institute.
  • The Bickner Family Foundation—Bruce P. (1968) and Joan A. Bickner—created the Bickner Chair, Division of Kinesiology.
  • Dr. Theodore Chang, (1991) (1996) and Hamilton Chang (1989) created the Cheng-Yang Chang Pediatric Professorship in Urology in the Medical School.
  • The Molly Vincent Foundation created the Marilyn H. Vincent Professorship in Diabetes Research in the Medical School.
  • Michael (1980) and Shauna Stark created the Michael Stark Professorship in Finance in the Ross School of Business.
  • Ronald (1966) and Eileen Weiser (1975) created the Ronald and Eileen Weiser Professorship in European and Eurasian Studies in LSA.