LSA raises more than $91M for scholarships

With the help of a new gift of $2 million for undergraduate scholarships from the Judy and Fred Wilpon Family Foundation, LSA has raised more than $91 million for student scholarships.

The latest $2 million Wilpon gift, in addition to an earlier $3 million gift, will be matched dollar-for-dollar from President Mary Sue Coleman's Donor Challenge for need-based scholarships and will increase the impact of the total $5 million commitment to $10 million for need-based scholarships.

LSA Dean Terrence McDonald says the $10 million in scholarships as a result of the Wilpon gift will more than double the number of LSA students receiving need-based financial aid to nearly 1,000. The amount of each aid package has also increased.

"These scholarships will enable students to engage in research, close collaborations with faculty members and other forms of real-world experiences that distinguish a Michigan education," McDonald says. With the Wilpon gift, LSA has exceeded its overall $300 million fundraising goal for The Michigan Difference campaign by raising $307.6 million to date. Because the goal for student support is $110 million, the college is continuing to raise funds to fulfill that goal in the final year of the campaign, he says.

"This year the President's Donor Challenge is focusing on graduate student support with a dollar match for every $2 raised," McDonald says. "While we continue to work toward our campaign goal of $110 million, we are expanding our efforts to increase support for graduate students."

The Wilpon gift will create a new endowed scholarship fund named the Irene and Morris B. Kessler Presidential Scholars Fund in honor of Judy Wilpon's late parents.

Fred Wilpon is chairman and chief executive officer of the New York Mets; co-founder and chairman of the board of Sterling Equities; senior partner of SportsNet New York, a regional sports network serving the New York metropolitan region; and co-founder and chairman of the Brooklyn Baseball Company, which owns the Brooklyn Cyclones, a Minor League Baseball team.

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, of Locust Valley, N.Y., earned bachelor of arts degrees in 1958 from U-M.

Last year the Wilpons also made a $5 million gift to create the Bone & Joint Injury Prevention & Rehabilitation Center and a $4 million gift for the renovation of the Wilpon Baseball and Softball Complex.

"We're thrilled that Fred and Judy have chosen the University of Michigan for these important initiatives," Coleman says.

The Wilpon gift advances U-M's $2.5 billion The Michigan Difference campaign, which achieved its goal in June 2007. The campaign continues through Dec. 31, 2008.

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 as a representative on the board of the Big Ten Network. Judy Wilpon serves on the LSA Dean's Honorary Committee.