Ex-Mich. GOP chairman Weiser, wife give $50M to UM

The Detroit News

The former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party and his wife have donated $50 million to the University of Michigan, the school announced Thursday.

The gift from Ron and Eileen Weiser raises the couple’s total giving to UM to $95.9 million, the university said. It includes $25 million for the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies in the International Institute. The center studies how democracies emerge, the conditions needed to extend political, social, and economic freedom, and how dictatorships endure.

Funds also will go to the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, the School of Education, the University Musical Society, the Athletic Department and the UM Health System’s Food Allergy Center.

At the Ross school, the couple’s donation will establish an endowed fund to support programs for MBA students, and contribute toward new and renovated buildings. In the education school, their gift will go toward teacher preparation efforts.

The musical society gift will add to an artistic leadership fund, while the athletic department funds will go toward building new facilities.

“I know first-hand the commitment and balance it takes to succeed academically while competing for the University of Michigan,” said Weiser, who was a Wolverine wrestler.

The gift comes in the midst of UM’s Victory for Michigan campaign, which began last year with a $4 billion goal. The Weisers, both of whom graduated from UM, are vice chairs on the campaign’s leadership board.

“The Weisers’ very generous gift reflects their involvement throughout the university,” President Mark Schlissel said in a statement. “Their support of emerging democracies, health care, teacher preparation, business education, the arts, and athletics is a tremendous vote of confidence in our work.”

Weiser was state GOP chairman from 2009-11 and was U.S. ambassador to Slovak Republic from 2001-04. He also was national co-chairman of John McCain’s 2008 campaign for president.