New $100 Million Campaign Works to Recruit and Retain WIU Students


MACOMB (WGEM) — Efforts are underway at Western Illinois University to raise $100 million for the school’s “For the W” campaign. The campaign directs funds toward scholarships, faculty support, technology, and academic and student support programs.

During the Quiet Phase, the campaign raised over $42 million. Now in the public phase, WIU Foundation CEO Brad Bainter said hitting the $100 million goal is crucial because it will set WIU up for future success.

“I have always believed that our faculty and students deserve the same support from our alumni as any other university in the country,” Bainter said.

Bainter added that once the campaign achieves its goal, the available funding could attract more students to campus.

“The one thing we never want to see happen here is student furlough because they need the money, and certainly the university expenses are well documented across the country, so we have to support in any way possible,” Bainter said.

The campaign is well over a 2001 campaign goal of $20 million and a 2012 goal of $60 million. The new campaign is also part of the university’s 125th anniversary.

Theodore Bania, a junior psychology student, said the scholarships played a big part in his decision to come to WIU. He said more funding could improve accessibility to higher education.

“Part of the reason I chose Western in the first place was that they were willing to give me so much scholarship money,” Bania said. “It’s something where they’re really pushing to help students and make it more accessible to people.”

Sophomore music industry major Jaiden Brown added that more scholarship money means more students on campus.

“They give more people the opportunity to come here, they give more people the opportunity to get a higher education,” Brown said.

With a recent history of declining enrollment, the numbers are starting to rise. VP of Enrollment Management Amber Schultz said big campaigns like this could be part of what helps get WIU back on track for the long term.

“For many Western Illinois University students, there’s no way they can get into higher education without those dollars,” Schultz said. “Our students depend on donor dollars to be able to come to Western, but also to be able to pass.”

Bainter said he hopes to have reached the goal by 2027.

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