In honor of $50 million donation, regents rename Dennison Building

Courtesy of the University of Michigan
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By Allana Akhtar, Daily Staff Reporter
Published December 18, 2014

At their December meeting Thursday, The University’s Board of Regents approved a motion to rename the Dennison Building “Weiser Hall” in recognition of University alum Ron Weiser, a former U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, and his wife Eileen for their recent $50 million donation to the University.

Last month, the regents approved a $49 million renovation to the Dennison Building, which when finished, will house the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies and The Ronald and Eileen Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia.

Almost half of the family’s donation will go to the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies, a unit the Weisers founded in 2008, and The Ronald and Eileen Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia. Both programs stem from Ron Weiser’s experiences as a diplomat between 2001 and 2004. They are intended to promote understanding of governments transitioning from autocratic rule to bureaucratic governance.

Jerry May, vice president for development, introduced the proposal to honor the Weisers’ “wonderful and generous donation.”

Two parts of the Crisler Center will also bear the Weiser name: the Weiser Crisler Center Club and the Weiser Crisler Center North Tunnel.

Regent Kathy White (D) also extended her gratitude for the Weiser family’s gift.

“I couldn’t be more pleased to be sitting here and saying thank you to the Weisers,” she said.

Part of the Weiser donation will go to funding the ongoing renovations at the Ross School of Business, along with supporting programs such as the Weiser Family Entrepreneurship Awards and the Multidisciplinary Action Projects, which fosters connections between MBA students and business corporations.

The Weisers also donated to support facilities for the University’s student athletes. The couple kept a portion of the money open as well, saying they will give support for other programs and University buildings that require aid.

In a phone interview following Thursday’s meeting, Weiser said he had been in communication with the University regarding these gifts for a while. He said he donated to various areas of the University to enhance the learning experience for all students.

“My success in life and in business, I owe a great deal to the university for and the education it gave me,” he said. “This is an expression of my wife Eileen and my and my whole family’s affection for the University of Michigan.”

Weiser unsuccessfully ran for the University’s Board of Regents in November, falling short of unseating White or winning the seat vacated by Regent Julia Darlow (D).

At the meeting, the regents also approved several capital projects, including schematic designs for the A. Alfred Taubman Wing of the Art & Architecture Building. The design involves building a 36,000 square foot space for studios, faculty offices and support spaces for students. The total cost will for the project will be $28 million.

The board also approved a $9 million project to renovate and install new medical equipment to a 17,900 square foot of space in the University Hospital South to meet an increased demand for adult inpatient care.

Last September the Board approved a plan to build four new operating rooms in the UMHS Department of Surgery. The $23 million project will renovate 24,000 square feet of space.

The regents also approved changing the name of an open lawn area on North Campus to the Eda U. Gerstacker Grove for the Gerstacker Foundation, which has donated over $12 million to North Campus research facilities, including the Department of Biomedical Engineering.