August 17, 2022

$10 million donation is Central Michigan University’s largest in its history

Another college in Michigan is benefiting in a big way from the estate of a businessman who valued higher education.

Central Michigan University received $10 million from alum Robert Richmond, whose cash donation is the largest single gift in the school’s history.

The announcement of the gift comes just a few months after Albion College said it received a $7.5 million chunk of Richmond’s estate — one of the largest gifts the private liberal arts school has ever received.

Richmond, who graduated from Central Michigan in 1966 with a degree in business administration, died last year at age 78 after a three-year battle with pancreatic cancer.

The gift to his Mount Pleasant-based alma mater will be used to create an endowment for scholarships, student service needs and initiatives to help underserved populations, CMU said in a news release.

“This gift is the culmination of Mr. Richmond’s life and work, and his generosity is an inspiring example of how the CMU community takes care of each other” President Bob Davies said in the release.

Albion also said it would use its gift mainly for scholarships, but also to help pay for its COVID-19 regimen. Most gifts to universities come with “strings attached,” or legal rules for how they can be spent, but Albion President Mathew Johnson said the administration was given discretion of its use.

Richmond transferred from Albion to the University of Michigan before ultimately completing his degree at Central.

After graduating, he worked with IBM to help businesses set up computer systems. He and his wife Lois went on to start B & L Plastics and B & L Development Co. in the Grand Rapids area, accumulating most of their wealth in manufacturing, real estate and investing. The couple retired to Arizona.

“These funds come at a time when it’s more important than ever to help students financially on their path to a degree,” Davies said.

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