KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - A group of anonymous alumni has gifted more than half a billion dollars to Western Michigan University.

President Edward Montgomery said during Tuesday’s announcement of the Empowering Futures Gift that thanks to the “incredible generosity and foresight” of the donors the school will be able to make a difference for students today and for the next 100 years. It is believed to be the largest gift ever made to a public, higher education institution in the United States.

Western Michigan has more than 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students, but according to Montgomery many face financial hurdles in pursuing higher education. Although the city and university have done much to bridge financial barriers, namely the Kalamazoo Promise that covers 100% of post-secondary education for eligible Kalamazoo public high school graduates, he says other barriers highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic in minority and rural communities have been re-examined and that the gift will allow Western Michigan to “deepen our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice across our campuses and to provide opportunities for students who might not otherwise have access to the social mobility of a college degree or the opportunity to become a doctor.”

The school will receive the funding over 10 years. $300 million is being donated to the university’s Stryker School of Medicine and another $200 million is for the university as a whole. Western Michigan’s Athletics Department will receive $50 million.

This Nov. 14, 2016, file photo, shows Sangren Hall on the campus of Western Michigan University Kalamazoo, Mich. A group of anonymous alumni has gifted $550 million to Western Michigan University. The school says it will receive the funding over 10 years. It will be divided among scholarships, investing in quality educators, advancing medical research and education, and bolstering Western Michigan athletics. (Bryan Bennett/Kalamazoo Gazette via AP, File)