“When I was working with the Slovaks, I realized there are no books written, no roadmap, for a country to transition from an authoritarian government to a free society. Studying countries that have made the successful transition to democracy gives us an opportunity to help nations that are in the process. We’re talking about people having the opportunity to come out from under the thumb of authoritarian rule, and with that freedom to have a better life for themselves and their children, as well as freedom from fear of their government, their police, and even their neighbors.”
Those were the words of Ron Weiser on announcing his $25 million gift in 2014 to the University of Michigan’s Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies, following an earlier $10 million founding gift. After founding a national real-estate investment firm, Weiser served as U.S. ambassador to Slovakia from 2001 to 2004. His academic center aims to “assure and extend freedom and democracy” by encouraging and supporting movement away from oppressive government in Eurasian countries.
- Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies, ii.umich.edu/wce
- Announcement of 2014 gift, leadersandbest.umich.edu/comm/news/weisers-50-million-gift