Northern Michigan University alumnus John Berry and his wife, Shirley, have committed $5 million to the NMU Foundation. Their gift is the largest in Northern’s history and intended to enhance the university’s ability to recruit high-achieving students. The couple has pledged $1 million in cash to endow a scholarship and provide immediate support for students and $4 million in estate gifts that will establish a legacy of financial aid for the future.

    The John and Shirley Berry Scholarship will be awarded to incoming freshmen who have demonstrated academic ability and achievement. Preference will be given to students who enroll in the NMU Honors Program and plan to pursue a major in the College of Business, followed by those who major in the STEM areas of science, technology, engineering or math.

    Berry also contributed the second-largest gift in NMU history with $2 million to support construction and naming of the Berry Events Center. NMU President Les Wong said the new commitment announced today is further evidence of the family’s philanthropic spirit and the strength of John’s connection to his alma mater.

     “John has made it abundantly clear through his words and actions that Northern had a significant impact on in his life,” Wong said. “Through this gift, he and Shirley will enable future students to enjoy similar experiences. Because their scholarship also emphasizes academic excellence and participation in the Honors Program, it will help Northern attract students with high credentials, which benefits the entire university.”

    Two high school seniors who will enroll at NMU this fall have been selected for the first awards. Kasey Hall of White Pigeon, Mich., and Cole Swiston of Washburn, Wis., each will receive $20,000 over four years.

    “Somebody has seen the potential in me to do great things and are investing in me. I have no idea how I could ever be more grateful,” said Hall, who traveled to Marquette for the announcement and to thank the Berrys in person. “One less burden has been taken off my mother for the financial stresses of college and I cannot be more excited to show Northern Michigan University my drive, determination and dedication. I am thrilled to be going to NMU and am extremely grateful for this prestigious award.”

    The gift was announced at a reception at The Waterfront on Thursday, April 28, 2011.