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Kohl’s Department Stores supports retail excellence with $3 million gift

May 19, 2008

Kohl’s Department Stores announced today a $3 million gift to UW–Madison to establish the Kohl’s Department Stores Center for Retailing Excellence.

In addition to an endowment to provide administrative and programming support, the gift will fund a state-of-the-art facility within an expanded and renovated School of Human Ecology building. This marks the largest corporate gift to the School of Human Ecology.

"While we have great partnerships with many universities, our longest-standing relationship is with UW–Madison. The university has been a valuable resource for Kohl’s by consistently offering graduates who demonstrate initiative and leadership. In fact, many of our associates are alumni," says Telvin Jefferies, executive vice president of human resources for Kohl’s. "It is a pleasure to invest in and showcase the university’s retail major and offerings with the Kohl’s Department Stores Center for Retailing Excellence."

The center creates a link between the retail industry and the faculty, staff and students of UW–Madison, allowing students to interact with industry professionals and explore careers and job opportunities. UW–Madison is one of few institutions in the nation to offer a Bachelor of Science retailing degree and is one of the nation’s leading retailing programs.

"This gift will transform the center into a single portal where retailers can identify students from the many fields across which they hire," says School of Human Ecology Dean Robin A. Douthitt. "We expect the Kohl’s Department Stores Center for Retailing Excellence will connect retailers with cutting-edge faculty and graduate student research across campus."

Activities taking place in the center include the Retail Leadership Symposium that focuses on careers in retailing and retail and consumer science clubs. With the Kohl’s gift, the enhanced center will have dedicated space for students to meet and increase the number of students it can serve. Construction of the $48 million addition and renovation to the Human Ecology building, including the Kohl’s Department Stores Center for Retailing Excellence, is scheduled to begin in September 2009 and be completed in 2013.

"Kohl’s gift recognizes both the company’s historic support of the UW–Madison campus and its corporate leadership in launching and advancing the careers of many alumni," says UW–Madison Chancellor John D. Wiley. "This private gift of endowment and building capital ensures long-term stability of our corporate partnership that will provide a margin of program excellence that we could not achieve with public funding alone."

In addition to supporting the academic pursuits of future retail leaders, Kohl’s offers college students hands-on experience through its internship program, which grew by more than 30 percent over the last three years. This summer, the program will employ more than 280 students nationwide, many of whom will become Kohl’s managers-in-training and executives. In fact, more than 60 percent of students who intern at Kohl’s headquarters go on to accept permanent positions with the company, and among those hired since 2005, more than 90 percent remain with the company today.

Recognized by BusinessWeek magazine for the past two years as one the "Best Places to Launch a Career," Kohl’s corporate headquarters employs more than 3,600 associates. The company believes in recruiting and retaining talent from its home state and has been actively recruiting at UW–Madison for more than 20 years. Approximately 10 percent of Kohl’s corporate associates are UW–Madison alumni. In addition, Kohl’s recently introduced an executive MBA program through UW–Madison for associates at its corporate headquarters.

Based in Menomonee Falls, Wis., Kohl’s (NYSE: KSS) is a family-focused, value-oriented specialty department store offering moderately priced, exclusive and national brand apparel, shoes, accessories, beauty and home products in an exciting shopping environment. Kohl’s operates 957 stores in 47 states and will celebrate the opening of its 1,000th store in the fall. A company committed to the communities it serves, Kohl’s has raised more than $102 million for children’s initiatives nationwide through its "Kohl’s Cares for Kids" philanthropic program.