BY CAITLIN SCHNEIDER
Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 9, 2008
A University alum and his wife have donated $10 million to the University’s International Institute for research on emerging democracies, the University announced Monday.
Ronald Weiser, founder of the national real estate company McKinley Associates, is a former U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia. During his time in that position, he became intrigued with the often-tumultuous process of a country's transition into democracy. Weiser said the experience motivated he and his wife, Eileen, to donate to the University research.
"I am interested in what factors have led some countries to achieve democracy and others not," Weiser said in a statement. "In Europe and Eurasia are some of the best examples of places that have achieved democracy and freedom. It is very important to understand how these countries transitioned and to share that information with countries that are in transition.”
The donation will establish the Ronald and Eileen Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia. That umbrella organization will oversee the existing Center for Russian and European Studies and the Center for European Studies-European Union Center, as well as the new Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies.
Students will likely see the donation manifest itself in the form of new courses, seminars, conferences and lecture series.
The University President's Donor Challenge Fund, which contributes $1 for every $2 gift to a graduate and professional study program, will tack on another $1.5 million to the donation.
Weiser’s $10 million gift is the second $5-million-plus donation this year. In June, the University received a $5.2 million donation for LSA Fellowships from the late alum Mildred Dorothy Sommer’s estate. In 2004, alum Stephen M. Ross made the University's largest-ever donation, a $100-million gift.