One of the things that I love the most about UW-Madison is the passion and commitment of its alumni and friends. I see it and feel it when I travel around the country for events, host a football tailgate event at Olin House, or see alums in town for Advisory Board meetings. Those who went to school here are very loyal.
But Wisconsin alumni don’t just visit campus, come to sporting events, or wear red t-shirts. They back up their loyalty with a commitment to give back — to help build our university and make it even better. Since we publicly announced our All Ways Forward campaign in October 2015, alumni have been generously supporting our top priorities: student support, faculty excellence, research and innovation and the educational experience.
The campaign is coming to a close at the end of 2021. We have much to celebrate. Our original goal was to raise $3.2 billion, an amount many believed was overly optimistic. We are closing this campaign after blowing through that goal and raising over $4 billion. Many people worked very hard to reach this incredible outcome. We will celebrate the impact donors have had with “All Ways Grateful” events over the Homecoming weekend.
Let me be clear: This doesn’t mean we have $4 billion more to spend today. Almost all of these funds are designated through gift agreements with donors to be spent for very specific purposes. Many of these funds are designated as endowments designed to support a specific use in perpetuity with a pay out of 4.5% annually. The endowment will generate millions of dollars into the future for, among other things, faculty support and student scholarships. Another substantial share of commitments of pledges that will be paid over time are estate commitments. But by any measure, this effort has been a massive success.
When it comes to fundraising, what motivates our alumni to be generous is the impact their gifts can make on the lives of our students and faculty.
Here are some ways this fundraising campaign has transformed our campus:
• Overall, our endowment funding for scholarships and fellowships has increased by 200 percent since the beginning of the campaign. Donors funded 4,620 new scholarships for graduate and undergraduate students, including more than 2,500 Wisconsin resident students who receive full scholarships through Bucky’s Tuition Promise, which is partially funded by philanthropic dollars.
All of this means we’re deepening and broadening the talent pool here in Wisconsin and honoring the promise we’ve made to generations of families in this state that if their child can qualify for admission, our doors will be open to them.
• We’ve increased the number of endowed faculty funds by 324 since the campaign began, and funding available to faculty to spend on research has increased by nearly 300%. These named chairs and professorships help us attract and retain gifted scientists and scholars and great teachers for our students.
• Perhaps the most visible effect of the campaign is through its contribution to new facilities that attract students and give our faculty the labs and teaching spaces they need to do their job well.
Projects that have seen an infusion of funding through the campaign include the Hamel Music Center, the new Chemistry and Veterinary Medicine buildings, the Meat Science and Animal Biologics building, the Nicholas Recreation Center and many more.
I want to take a moment to express my special thanks and appreciation for three gifts announced in just the past six weeks that are transforming the face of campus.
• The first is the new Computer, Data, and Information Sciences building. Our steadfast supporters John and Tashia Morgridge have made an extraordinary commitment – $125 million, of which $50 million is a matching gift that we hope will inspire many of you to join us in bringing this new building to life. WARF has pledged $50 million to this building as well. This facility will give the fastest growing major on campus a world-class facility to further the fields of AI, nanotechnology and data science, among others.
• We recently announced a new wellness facility for the west side of campus – the Bakke Recreation & Wellbeing Center. This is a $113 million project that we’ve launched with a generous gift from Jim and Sue Bakke. It replaces the Natatorium and it’ll give us (among other things) an ice rink, space for cooking classes and a lot more room for our Adaptive Fitness Programs.
• The final project we announced just two weeks ago – a new academic building for the College of Letters and Science to be known as the Irving and Dorothy Levy Hall. The state gave us partial funding for this building, and Jeff and Marv Levy and their family foundation added a generous gift and asked that the building be named in memory of their parents.
While we will celebrate the impact of the All Ways Forward campaign and thank the many generous donors who have participated, efforts to find support for our teaching, research and outreach missions won’t stop.
Our schools and colleges continue to pursue fundraising priorities. For instance, UW Health and the School of Medicine and Public Health are partnering on a campaign to support the future of health in Wisconsin and around the world. In another example, the Raimey-Noland Campaign is ongoing and targets support to programs designed to make campus more diverse and inclusive.
Looking back to the night when we first announced the campaign, we are in a much different place than when we began. It wouldn’t have happened without every one of our donors.
I am deeply grateful not only for the financial support, but for the passion and commitment so many of our generous alums have brought to this campaign, helping the University of Wisconsin-Madison thrive for the next 173 years.
Happy homecoming and On, Wisconsin!