Dwight B. Waldo established Western Michigan University in 1903. When WMU first opened, it was called the Western State Normal School and known as a regional teaching college. The college was renamed Western State Teachers College in 1927 and Western Michigan College of Education in 1941.
In 1957, Western Michigan College became Western Michigan University, the state of Michigan’s fourth public university. WMU is currently the fourth largest public university in the state.
Western Michigan University’s five campuses house about 150 buildings on 1,200 acres of land. The biggest campus—West Campus, in Kalamazoo—is known as “Main Campus.” The other four campuses are East Campus, Oakland Drive Campus, Parkview Campus, and the College of Aviation.
The Bernhard Center is a huge building on campus with tons of things to do that will serve most students’ needs. Some of the activities include a 24-hour computer lab; a large food service area with restaurants such as Subway, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell; shopping; a campus bookstore; and a schedule of music, comedy, and other cultural events and performances.
The Waldo Library has many study areas, Apple computers all over for students to use, and three floors of references. In the basement of the library there is a smoothie shop, which is a good motivation to go there!
The Little Theatre is located on East Campus and always has a number of events for students to go to. There is usually a small admissions fee, but the proceeds go to good causes. Some of the events that they offer are movies put on by the Kalamazoo Film Society and other film groups, Frostic Reading Series where various writers come in and read selected works, and sometimes productions as well.
All WMU students have access to the workout facilities at the Sports and Recreation Center, which is included in tuition. Some of the activities include open recreation, intramural sports, fitness programs, and a pool. You have the option of meeting with a personal trainer and they also offer many fitness classes to suit every need.
The Miller Auditorium brings in big stage productions such as Broadway musicals, plays, concerts and more. Some of the past performances include Rent, Chicago, Mamma Mia!, Annie, Ben Folds, and many more. Tickets can get a little pricey depending on the show, but WMU students get 50% off the ticket price!
Western Michigan University is located in Kalamazoo, southwest Michigan’s largest city, with over 70,000 residents. Downtown Kalamazoo is a neat place to hang out. There are many stores downtown that are definitely worth checking out—the retro candy shop and thrift stores catch the attention of many college students because of their cheap prices. However, other stores with still attract students and will usually offer a discount to WMU students if they bring in a coupon or flash their student ID. Also, there are loads of restaurants downtown. Sometimes they are a little fancy or a bit pricey, but they’re still nice to dine at for special occasions. And, while downtown is fun to hang out in general, I’d really like to point out Arcadia Park, a beautiful grassy spot in the middle of the city. It’s a wonderful place to read a book, have a picnic, or play Frisbee.
If it’s flashy, energetic night life students are looking for, they usually head out to a few of the clubs found in downtown Kalamazoo. The club I hear about the most is Kraftbrau; I see advertisements for it all over campus, on the corkboard in Rocketstar Café and on bus shelters near the bus loop. Kraftbrau is best known for its concerts; anyone interested in bands like the Mountain Goats, Pinback, and Wolf Parade as well as several local bands really ought to check out Kraftbrau.
If students are still looking for something to do at night, but clubs really aren’t their style, many go bowling. The bowling alleys around Kalamazoo and Portage cater to students. Harpos sponsors a college night where students can play games for one single dollar! However, my friends and I prefer Airway Lanes; it’s farther from campus and costs a little more ($7.00 for shoes and unlimited games), but the place is nicer. Plus, Airway Lanes has an arcade with bumper cars and laser tag.
WMU’s football game against Central Michigan University is very important on campus. As Jackie Goodman ’10 reports, “The WMU versus CMU night is epic. If the game occurs during the week, some teachers allow students the day off and if they don’t, most students will skip class; either way, students find a way to partake in all-day tailgating, barbecuing, and partying. Students spend the whole day preparing for the big game.”
Fall Welcome is a week-long, annual event that introduces new WMU students to the university before classes start. Bronco Bash, which occurs right after Fall Welcome, features live performances and booths and involves 400 student organizations, departments, community members, businesses, and restaurants.
Tim Allen (1976) is a film actor.
Jack Clifford (1956) founded the Food Network.
Dave Dombrowski (1979) is the president, CEO, and general manager of the Detroit Tigers.
Gwen Frostic (1929) is an artist, naturalist, and former poet laureate of Michigan.
Marin Mazzie (1982) is a Broadway performer and three-time Tony Award nominee.
Stephen Lynch (1993) is a comedian.
Roy Roberts (1970) is the national president of the Boy Scouts of America.
Luther Vandross is an R&B singer and songwriter.
WMU’s Broncos compete in the NCAA’s Division I. The men’s basketball, baseball, football, soccer, and tennis teams, and the women’s basketball, cross-country, gymnastics, soccer, softball, track and field, and volleyball teams compete in the Mid-American Conference. The men’s hockey team competes in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. The Broncos’ biggest rival is Central Michigan University.
The football team has won one Michigan Collegiate Conference, two Mid-American Conferences, two MAC West Divisions, and three bowl games. The men’s soccer team won the MAC tournament championship in 2003, and the volleyball team has won seven MAC regular season championships and four MAC tournament championships.
WMU is Michigan’s fourth largest higher education institution.
WMU hosts the annual International Congress on Medieval Studies.
WMU’s first name was Western State Normal School.
WMU’s dorms are concentrated in three complexes: Valley Halls, the Little Three, and Main Campus. The Valley Halls, which consist of Valley I, Valley II, and Valley III, are located close to the Haworth College of Business, the intramural sports fields, and Goldsworth Valley pond. They are however a hike from the main campus. The halls feature suite-style rooms, where a bathroom connects two bedrooms, and the buildings are coed. Valley I and II have dining halls. Students in the Lee Honors College can opt to live in the honors community, in Valley I, where the First Year Experience program is also located.
The Little Three dorms are part of a three-residence hall complex close to the Student Recreation Center. These dorms also have suite style rooms and all floors are coed. This complex is geared towards older students: residents must be sophomores or older at two, except at Davis Hall where you must be at least a junior and over 21. There is also a dining facility connected to the complex via an enclosed walkway.
The Big Three is community-style living, and all floors are coed; the entire floor shares a bathroom. Rooms are double occupancy, and things can get a little cramped. The Big Four consists of Siedschlag, Draper, and the Burnhams. Siedschlag (where I live) is an all-girls dorm, and Draper is an all boys dorm; the two are connected on the upper levels, and students from both dorms mingle frequently. The Burnhams are coed and also feature community living. The rooms in the Big Four are much larger; they’re basically two bedrooms attached to one another. Students can arrange furniture any way they want. They can each have their own bedroom, or they can share a bedroom and make one of the rooms a study or entertainment room.