Bakke Recreation & Wellbeing Center Groundbreaking

Bakke Recreation & Wellbeing Center Groundbreaking

Thurs Sept 30, 2021

4:35 p.m.


Thank you, Aaron, for that kind introduction, and for returning to UW-Madison to lead our Recreation & Wellbeing programs at one of the most exciting and challenging moments in the last half century.


I also want to thank President WhiteEagle and the Ho Chunk Nation for working with us over the last couple of years to identify new and better ways to recognize the 12,000-year history of the Ho-Chunk people on this land … and to move us toward a greater awareness of those who lived here before us.


As some of you know, we have built a number of new buildings and restored a number of historic buildings on this campus in the last several years.  Some are facilities for research and education … some are spaces for relaxing and socializing … and some are places (like our new Music Center) that invite the community in.


But very few do all of these things.


And only one will do all of these things while also providing state-of-the-art facilities for students, faculty, staff, and members of the public to take care of their health, learn new skills, and develop lifelong habits that support physical and mental wellbeing.


Not to mention have a lot of fun.


This new building will reflect the values of the family whose leadership gift has brought us together today:


  • A passion for innovation
  • A dedication to promoting health and wellbeing
  • A commitment to the broader community that goes back generations
  • And a deep understanding of the life-changing power of education.


Over the years, they have been generous donors to Badger Athletics and to academic programs and student scholarships at the Wisconsin School of Business, the College of Engineering, the School of Human Ecology, and the School of Medicine and Public Health.


And today, I am delighted to announce that Jim and Sue Bakke have given a $20m gift to create the Bakke Recreation and Wellbeing Center.


As most of you know, Jim is president of Sub-Zero-Wolf, one of Madison’s great businesses and one that was started by Jim’s grandfather.  So it won’t surprise you that this building will also be home to the Wolf Teaching Kitchen and the new Sub-Zero Ice Arena.


This is the kind of gift that’s going to generate a lot of excitement and inspire other donors to get involved.


Jim and Sue – thank you for this extraordinary gift!


The Bakke Center is going to re-define what a center for recreation and wellbeing can be.  Because in addition to offering first-rate exercise and wellness programs:


  • It will be an academic space for our top-ranked Kinesiology program – one of the fastest-growing majors on this campus – and our Adapted Fitness program.


  • It will be a space that welcomes the community in with community memberships and events … camps and clinics … cooking classes … and 1:1 nutritional counseling.


  • And there is no question that the Sub-Zero Ice Arena is going to be one of the hottest spots on campus! We are in Wisconsin and ice skating is a top recreational sport.


Jim and Sue:  Thank you again for your generosity and your vision for a building that will be many things to many people.  It feels great to be able to say:


For the first time in more than 50 years, we will have a recreation and wellbeing facility on this side of campus that is worthy of our standing as a top university!


Now please join me in a warm Wisconsin thank-you and welcome for Jim and Sue Bakke!