It was announced Monday, Nov. 11, that GameAbove, an Eastern Michigan University alumni group, would be donating $3.5 million to faculty initiatives and development along with student needs. In their donation, GameAbove gifted $2 million to the "Game Above, Faculty First" initiative and $1.5 million to a second initiative under the name of "Students Matter Most.” This lump-sum gift is the group's first donation to the university with the group having a long term vision to, "sustain and enhance the high-achieving uniqueness that is EMU," according to GameAbove Spokesperson, Denis Wolcott.
The Faculty First initiative will be intended to support all levels of faculty, including assistant and associate professors along with full professors across all five of the academic colleges within the university as well as the university library. According to GameAbove's announcement regarding their gift, the donation will provide for "reassigned time from teaching for scholarly, creative, and innovative endeavors; conference presentations; travel; hiring of research assistants; purchase of special equipment or supplies for teaching, scholarly, research, creative, or innovative activities; development of a grant proposal for external funding; and, similar or related academic activities."
“Students Matter Most” will aim to provide resources for clubs, sports, student government and student organizations. It will also provide financial provisions for graver student issues including student housing insecurity.
In an interview with student body Senator Colton Ray, he said he hopes to meet with university Provost Rhonda Longworth in regards to funding allocation for students with housing insecurity. In regards to the GameAbove gift, Senator Ray hopes to streamline funding as quickly as possible to housing insecure students, “there [are] people right now that go to our university and if they don’t get this money, honestly by the end of the semester, then they might not be able to come back." Senator Ray is the temporary chair of student government Political Action Committee and the chair of the newly formed Housing and Food Insecurity Committee.
Under gift parameters provided by GameAbove, the Office of the Provost in the Division of Academic and Student Affairs will administer funding from the gift to the faculty and student programs.
According to the GameAbove's mission, the organization's primary focus is to, "help shape, inspire and support the current and future students of Eastern Michigan University." Alumni involved with GameAbove include former EMU athletes and coaches, along with current businesspeople and entrepreneurs. According to Wolcott, “Eastern’s faculty had a significant positive impact on all GameAbove's founders and advisory members. Our goal is to give back in many ways, from supporting the incredible and respected faculty at Eastern, enhancing the learning experience and contributing to the University’s next era of innovation.” Long term goals for GameAbove include supporting key EMU programs and initiatives including, "enhancing athletic programs, creating state-of-the-art student facilities, and providing entrepreneurial and innovation support for students" according to GameAbove via their gift announcement.
The Office of the Provost in the Division of Academic and Student Affairs will administer funding to respective faculty and student initiatives under the gift parameters.