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Updated 10:00 AM February 19, 2007
 

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U-M to receive $12 M from New York Mets owner

The University has received a $12 million gift from the Judy and Fred Wilpon Family Foundation that will make its impact on a variety of programs.

The gift provides $5 million to create the Sport Injury Prevention Center, $4 million for the rebuilding of baseball and softball stadiums and $3 million for scholarships for undergraduate students with financial need. A dollar-for-dollar match from the President's Donor Challenge will increase the impact of the Wilpons' $3 million commitment to $6 million for financial aid.

Fred Wilpon is chairman and chief executive officer of the New York Mets, co-founder and chairman of the Board of Sterling Equities, and co-founder and chairman of the Brooklyn Baseball Company, which owns the Brooklyn Cyclones, a minor league team. As principal owner of the New York Mets, Wilpon has helped manage the franchise to become a major contender in Major League Baseball. The New York Mets are constructing a new stadium that will be operational on opening day 2009.

Wilpon also is senior partner of SportsNet New York, a regional sports network that serves the New York metropolitan region in partnership with Comcast and Time Warner.

Wilpon played baseball at U-M until an arm injury cut short his career, but a scholarship grant enabled him to continue attendance. Wilpon and his wife, Judy, earned Bachelor of Arts degrees from U-M in 1958.

"This gift from Fred and Judy is a perfect example of our alumni expressing their passion for Michigan through their generosity. We are grateful for this support and the many ways the Wilpons' gift will affect so many facets of the University," says President Mary Sue Coleman.

Sport Injury Prevention Center

The Wilpons will provide a $5 million leadership gift to the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and to the Division of Kinesiology to create the Sport Injury Prevention Center, which will focus on preventing injuries and promoting the health of athletes of all ages and abilities. The interdisciplinary center will bring together specialists in kinesiology, orthopedic surgery, bioengineering, public health and sports medicine to generate new insights into the root of injuries and the means to prevent them.

In many cases, sport-related injuries bring on degenerative joint disease and other mobility impairments that take their toll over a lifetime. By current estimates, nearly half could be prevented.

"Through my own life experiences, I know how much happiness that sports activities, both as a player and fan, can bring a person," Fred Wilpon says. "Judy and I wanted to help create this center at Michigan through our family foundation to ensure that children and adults who love sports can enjoy them to their fullest with reduced risk of injury and impairment. Educating them and providing the best medical advice available helps make this a possibility."

Rebuilding of the baseball and softball stadiums

The Wilpons' $4 million gift, along with others, will provide student-athletes and fans with exceptional, state-of-the-art facilities for baseball and softball. The stadium areas will be named the Wilpon Baseball and Softball Complex in honor of Fred's parents, Frances and Nathan Wilpon. The baseball stadium will feature seating for about 2,500 fans, concession areas, media facilities, locker rooms, an indoor practice facility and administrative offices. Amenities for fans will include the creation of a public plaza at the stadium entrance, barrier-free spectator areas and restrooms. The rebuilding of the softball stadium will add a permanent grandstand with seating for 1,500 spectators, a concession area, restrooms, a new press box and additional practice facilities.

Need-based scholarships

The Wilpon gift will provide $3 million to fund need-based scholarships to undergraduate students in LSA. The effect of the gift will be magnified by a dollar-for-dollar match from the President's Donor Challenge for financial aid, established by Coleman.The new endowed scholarship fund will be named the Irene and Morris B. Kessler Presidential Scholars Fund in honor of Judy Wilpon's late parents. The gift will assist LSA in meeting its goal of having the resources to provide need-based scholarships for 1,000 students by 2009.

The Wilpons' earlier support includes contributions to LSA, the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies and the Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellows. Fred Wilpon served on the national committee of the Campaign for Michigan. He is a member of the Athletic Directors Cabinet and represents U-M on the board of the Big Ten Network. Judy Wilpon serves on the LSA Dean's Honorary Committee.

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