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Our Patrons

Ambassador Ronald Weiser was appointed by President George W. Bush as Ambassador to the Slovak Republic in 2001, a post he held until December 2004. In 2004, Ambassador Weiser and his wife, Eileen Lappin Weiser, donated $250,000 to CREES to establish the Ronald and Eileen Weiser Slovakia-University of Michigan Collaboration which supported travel, research, and scholarly exchange between U-M and Slovakia. In 2008, with matching funds from the University President's Donor Challenge, the Weisers made a second gift totaling $11.5 million to establish the Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia and the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies. The mission of the centers is to promote interdisciplinary knowledge about, and public engagement with, the institutions, cultures, and histories of Europe and Eurasia and the conditions and policies facilitating historical, contemporary, and prospective transformations from authoritarian rule to democracies with vital civil societies.

In 2014, the Weisers demonstrated their ongoing commitment to the Weiser Centers with a new gift of $25 million to the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies. Read more about the 2014 gift here.

Ambassador Ronald Weiser, a graduate of the University of Michigan Business School, was appointed by President George Bush as U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia from 2001-04. In addition to his diplomatic responsibilities he organized three international investment conferences attended by investors from hundreds of companies. In 2004, he received the White Double Cross from Slovak President Rudolf Schuster, the highest award given to non-Slovaks; and the Cultural Pluralism Award from the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad for his work on the restoration of the Jewish cemetery in Zakopane, Poland, and one of Slovakia’s most cherished historical sites, the medieval Trencin Castle. In 2007 Ambassador Weiser was honored by the Woodrow Wilson International Center of the Smithsonian with the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service. In 1968, he founded McKinley Associates, a national real estate investment company, and served as its chairman and CEO until 2001.

He served on the advisory boards of the Zell Lurie Institute in the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and the University’s Food Allergy Center. In 1984, together with his wife, Eileen, he created the McKinley Foundation, a public community foundation that built the NEW Center. He is a trustee or director of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation and The Henry Ford, a member of the endowment committee of the Detroit Institute of Arts, a member of the campaign for the University’s Health System, and the chair of an effort to raise resources for a pediatric brain cancer research initiative at the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in honor of the late Chad Carr. He was Chair of the Michigan Republican Party from 2009-11, National Finance Chairman of the Republican National Committee from 2011-13, and was again elected Chair of the Michigan Republican Party in 2017. Ambassador Weiser was elected to the University of Michigan Board of Regents in 2016. His term expires January 1, 2025.

Eileen Lappin Weiser holds an master's degree in music from U-M. She served as the executive director of the McKinley Foundation, a public community foundation founded by the couple in 1984. She has also served as a board member for numerous community arts and civic affairs organizations. Mrs. Weiser is serving her second eight-year term on Michigan's State Board of Education. She has been a board member of the Fund for Improvement of Post-Secondary Education and is currently serving her second term on the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), chairing the Reporting and Dissemination Committee for the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), or Nation's Report Card. She is a member of NAGB's NAEP 12th Grade Preparedness Commission, and was appointed by Governor Snyder as a board member of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact.