$1.1 million gift from Ronald and Eileen Weiser will strengthen international learning

October 19, 2016

Ambassador Ronald N. Weiser (BBA ’66) and Eileen L. Weiser (MMus ’75) have allocated a $1.1 million gift to establish the Weiser Family Fund for Student International Policy Engagement at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

The Ford School gift is part of a $50 million gift the Weisers made to the University of Michigan in December 2014—a significant contribution to the university-wide Victors for Michigan campaign.

“The Ford School is extremely excited by this wonderful opportunity to enhance and expand our global engagement programming,” said Susan M. Collins, the Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of the Ford School. “We are deeply grateful to the Weisers for their vision and their generosity.”

The Weiser Family Fund will be used by the Ford School’s International Policy Center (IPC) over a six-year period, beginning fall 2017, to support structured learning opportunities that immerse students in a foreign environment. The Fund will enable the school to enhance and expand its international policy travel courses, and, by winter 2018, to add a new undergraduate travel course.

The Fund will also support graduate and undergraduate international internships, particularly in developing countries, and will support creative and entrepreneurial international programming that is student-initiated as well.

“I think that all young people should have the opportunity to study or travel abroad,” said Ronald Weiser, reflecting on the motivation for the couples’ gift. “It broadens their experience and gives them an opportunity to show America as it really is. Seeing real people and talking to them really gives you much more knowledge than you can learn in any course. It also leaves impressions that are long lasting.”

Ronald and Eileen Weiser, both alumni of the University of Michigan, are Vice Chairs for the University’s Victors for Michigan campaign.

"The Weisers' very generous gift reflects their involvement throughout the university. Their support of emerging democracies, health care, teacher preparation, business education, the arts, and athletics is a tremendous vote of confidence in our work. This gift demonstrates their understanding of the need to provide opportunities for our students," U-M President Mark S. Schlissel said, announcing the 2014 gift.

About the Weisers

Ronald Weiser graduated with honors in 1966 from U-M's Stephen M. Ross School of Business and did graduate work in business and law. In 1968, he founded McKinley Associates Inc., a national real estate investment company and served as its chairman and CEO until 2001 when he became U.S. Ambassador to the Slovak Republic. He currently serves on the boards of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, The Henry Ford, and the Michigan Theater Foundation.  He is a member of the advisory board of the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Ross School, the advisory board of the university's Food Allergy Center, and is Vice Chair of the U-M’s Victors for Michigan Campaign. He was National Finance Chairman of the Republican National Committee from 2011-13, and Chair of the Michigan Republican Party from 2009-11.

With a master’s degree in piano performance from the University of Michigan, Eileen Lappin Weiser has served on the University Musical Society Board of Directors, is a member of the UMS Senate, and is vice chair of the U-M’s Victors for Michigan Campaign. She is a past executive director of the McKinley Foundation and served for eight years on the National Assessment Governing Board. She is serving her second, eight-year term on Michigan's State Board of Education. Eileen is on the board of the Michigan Science Center and works to advance the arts, digital learning and STEM education in Michigan's K-12 schools. She also has served as a board member for numerous other community education, arts, and civic affairs organizations.

The Weisers, their children – Marc and his wife, Mary; Elizabeth and her husband, Trey Caswell; their youngest son, Danny – and their five grandchildren, all live in Ann Arbor.