Gift to fund education building renovation, addition

May 19, 2004

A $31 million gift will allow UW–Madison to renovate, modernize, and complete the Education Building, a 104-year-old central campus building that was never finished. Education is among the signature buildings in the Bascom Hill Historic District, which serves as the public face of the Madison campus.

The project will include restoration of the building’s Beaux Arts architectural features, which have been compromised over the years by age, occasional maintenance lapses, and sporadic remodeling and renovation projects. Also, an east wing – envisioned in the original design but never completed – will be added to the building, which serves as home to the university’s highly ranked School of Education.

The UW System Board of Regents will be asked in August to authorize the project to advance to the planning and design phases during the 2005-07 biennium. The timeline calls for construction to begin in late 2008, with completion by the end of 2010. The gift will fund the full cost of the project; no state money is needed.

“With this gift, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform the

Education Building into a state-of-the-art service center in the heart of campus for our 3,400 students,” says W. Charles Read, dean of the School of Education.

The donors, UW–Madison alumni John P. and Tashia F. Morgridge, hope that the Education Building, along with the Red Gym and other campus preservation efforts, can serve as a model for how careful and tasteful restorations can revitalize historic buildings as sources of university and state pride, while effectively meeting the 21st-century needs of students, faculty and staff.

“As we proceed with major redevelopment elsewhere on campus, John and Tashia Morgridge recognize the importance of preserving the campus’s heritage. This gift will allow us to tastefully restore a 104-year-old building so that it can serve the university – and its mission to turn out highly qualified educators and other professionals – for at least another 100 years,” says Chancellor John D. Wiley.

“As a proud graduate of this remarkable university and School of Education, I am delighted to help preserve this historic building while also providing modernized facilities for students, faculty and staff,” says Tashia Morgridge.

“It’s so exciting to imagine the phenomenal impact that this gift will have on the School of Education and on the central, historic area of the campus,” says Andrew A. Wilcox, president of the University of Wisconsin Foundation. “A gift of this nature reflects imaginative, courageous philanthropy that gives us the wherewithal to do something that was – if not impossible – at best improbable under current circumstances.”

The Education Building – located on Bascom Hill next to North Hall, the university’s oldest building – was recognized as architecturally significant when designed and built in 1899-1900. It exemplifies the Beaux Arts architectural style through its balanced, layered, symmetrical design and elaborate decorative touches that draw on Greek and Roman themes.

Other prominent local structures built in this style include the State Capitol, the State Historical Society Building and Agriculture Hall on campus. What distinguishes the Education Building from these other structures, which have marble facades, is its unique brick construction.

The building initially housed the College of Mechanics and Engineering. In 1910, a west wing was added and the attic expanded into a full fourth floor, but the added space could not keep pace with the growing needs of Engineering. In 1931, Engineering began moving to new facilities near Camp Randall, and Education soon began to move into the Bascom Hill building. By 1951, Education occupied the entire building, which was remodeled to convert laboratories into classrooms and offices.

Today, the School of Education enrolls more than 3,300 students, making it UW–Madison’s third-largest school or college, following the College of Letters and Science and the College of Engineering. The school’s eight academic departments, three research centers, two specialized libraries and other service units are housed in 17 buildings spread across the campus.

The Education Building on Bascom Hill houses the school’s administrative offices, student-advising services, placement and career services, minority student services, departments of Educational Policy Studies and Counseling Psychology, and the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE), a research/professional development unit. Classes in the building’s 11 general-assignment classrooms serve nearly 9,000 students annually. Also, 12,700 people a year attend events or meetings in the building’s two conference rooms.

The School of Education and its individual departments are widely regarded as among the best in the nation. U.S. News & World Report, in its most recent Best Graduate Schools guidebook, ranked the school as sixth in the nation among more than 160 peer institutions. As part of these rankings, deans of the nation’s top education schools and colleges rated departments and programs at UW–Madison among the best in graduate education, including seven departments and programs among the top three in the United States.

About the donors
A 1955 graduate of the School of Education, Tashia Frankfurth Morgridge has maintained close ties with the school, serving on its Board of Visitors and, with her husband, sponsoring scholarships to support students preparing to become teachers. A retired special-education teacher, she has been a volunteer teacher for the learning disabled.

John Morgridge, a 1955 graduate of the School of Business, has served as president, CEO and chair of the board of Cisco Systems, Inc., and is credited with building the San Jose, Calif., company into the leading global supplier of computer networking products.

The couple’s support for UW–Madison also includes gifts to the School of Business; the Morgridge Class of ’51 Scholarship; John P. and Tashia F. Morgridge Scholarship Fund and a chair in reading, both in the School of Education; and a chair in computer science in the College of Letters and Science. They have supported such building projects as the Morgridge Auditorium in Grainger Hall and the renovation of the Red Gym, which houses the Morgridge Center for Community Service.