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Couple donates $3M to college

December 30, 2016
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James Richmond and Lois Richmond
James Richmond and Lois Richmond. Courtesy WMU

A pair of philanthropists has donated $3 million to a college in the region for the creation of an interdisciplinary institute.

Western Michigan University said this month that alums James Richmond and Lois Richmond — a couple from Kalamazoo and noted arts supporters with executive leadership experience — have donated the sum to be used for the creation of the Richmond Product Design and Innovation Institute.

The institute will be a collaboration between WMU’s colleges of Fine Arts and Engineering and Applied Sciences, in addition to the Haworth College of Business. It will incorporate the college’s new bachelor of fine arts degree program announced in the fall.

“Jim and Lois Richmond, through their generosity, have made an investment in this region’s future by helping us create an innovative industrial design program that will combine form, function and manufacturing,” said John Dunn, president, WMU.

“This is the latest chapter in their long, thoughtful commitment to strengthening the ties that bind our campus and our community.”

The Richmond's gift will be used for renovations to 28,000 square feet on the first and third floors of Kohrman Hall, where the institute will be housed.

The re-designed space will include studios, presentation spaces and laboratories dedicated to innovation, fabrication, rapid prototyping, 3D printing, woodworking and metalworking.

Work on the preliminary concept and interior features is underway, and the goal is to begin construction next spring. The facility is projected to open in the summer of 2018.

Progressive AE is the design firm for the project, and the feasibility study was done by TowerPinkster.

A deal hasn't been reached with a construction management firm.

Other backers

Southwest Michigan companies in support of the effort include Whirlpool, Tekna, Newell Brands, Stryker, FabriKal, Landscape Forms and Eaton.

Bob Brown and the Monroe-Brown Foundation provided key initial funding, and the economic development nonprofit Southwest Michigan First is involved as well.

The Richmonds

Lois Richmond is a former assistant vice president of administration at Bronson Methodist Hospital.

James Richmond served as SVP of global marketing and development at Stryker prior to his retirement in 1988. He is still a consultant to the company. He is also a well-known Kalamazoo-area artist. His mediums are scrap metal, found objects and wood gathered from factories and farm auctions.

The Richmonds have a long-time association with the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, where James has served on the board and steering committee.

Their commitment to the arts was celebrated nearly a decade ago with the naming of WMU's Richmond Center for Visual Arts, home to the Frostic School of Art. That facility was opened in 2007.


Western Michigan University, founded in 1903, serves nearly 24,000 students from across the U.S. and 100 foreign countries. 

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