$10 million gift announced to Chancellor’s Scholars Program

April 27, 2016
Photo: Bascom Hall

Bascom Hall, where the Office of the Chancellor is located. Anonymous donors have committed a $10 million matching gift to inspire others to support the Chancellor’s Scholarship Program. Photo: Bryce Richter

Anonymous donors have committed a $10 million matching gift to inspire others to support the Chancellor’s Scholarship Program (CSP), the UW Foundation announced today.

The CSP was established in 1984 to increase educational opportunities for academically talented, underrepresented ethnic minorities — African, Hispanic, Native and Southeast Asian Americans — and socioeconomically disadvantaged undergraduates. The scholarship covers tuition and fees and an annual book award of $800.

There are currently 255 CSP recipients enrolled at UW–Madison who represent a wide diversity of majors and areas of interest.

“The Chancellor’s Scholarship program has connected me with tools and people that I need to make my education possible,” says Negassi Tesfamichael, a sophomore studying political science and English within the Letters & Science Honors Program. “Expanding the program will help students of color and the university as a whole by tapping into potential that previously was not tapped into.”

Rebecca Blank

Rebecca Blank

Many of the Chancellor’s Scholars assume leadership roles in student organizations and invest in the progress of the campus. Tesfamichael manages the newsroom at The Daily Cardinal, gives back to the community with Badger Volunteers and participates in the Pi Sigma Alpha political science honors society.

“It can be a struggle for (underrepresented) students to navigate their way through a university like UW–Madison on their own. But the constant support throughout the four-year Wisconsin Experience really does make a huge difference for students,” he says.

More than half of the program’s graduates pursue graduate/professional degrees and many others are emerging leaders in their respective fields. Chancellor’s Scholars who entered the UW in 2011 had a four-year graduation rate of 71.7 percent, which exceeds the campuswide graduation rate.

“On behalf of the entire university community, I want to thank these generous donors for helping ensure that talented individuals from underrepresented groups are able to pursue their education at the UW,” says UW–Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank. “This gift is not only an investment in these students, but in the entire campus.”

Another leading voice within CSP is Heather Kozlowski, a senior engineering student and co-chair of her class.

“Expanding the program will help students of color and the university as a whole by tapping into potential that previously was not tapped into.”

Negassi Tesfamichael

“These are the students that ruin the curve by getting 100 percent on exams. We have competitive internships and will be attending top grad schools. My peers inspire me and I am constantly reminded and motivated to keep up,” says Kozlowski.

Kozlowski expressed gratitude for the donation because it will allow CSP to add faculty members to the program who will serve as mentors; her mentors helped her achieve her academic and career goals.

This matching program applies to new gifts and pledges made after Jan. 1, 2016, on a first-come, first-served basis. All pledges should be paid within five years of the pledge commitment. Funds that are established or enhanced will be named by the initiating donor. So far, $850,000 has been raised to leverage the match.

—Ben Corey and Will Hoverman