Real estate entrepreneur and former diplomat Ronald Weiser and his wife, Eileen Weiser, have donated $50-million to the University of Michigan, in large part to support programs aimed at helping countries make the transition from authoritarian to democratic rule, the Associated Press and campus newspaper The Michigan Daily report. Half of the gift will go to two centers launched by the Weisers within the university's International Institute that study emerging democracies and why autocracies endure, the university said Thursday.
Mr. Weiser, the founder of Ann Arbor property firm McKinley Associates, is a former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party and served as U.S. ambassador to Slovakia from 2001 to 2004. Ms. Weiser is an elected member of the State Board of Education. The couple, both Michigan alumni, have now donated $95.9-million to the university. The university said the rest of the new gift will support a variety of projects, including business school renovations and athletic facilities, with some funds remaining as yet unallocated.