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Lubars’ gift helps strengthen, expand UW-Madison Computer Sciences

November 20, 2015

Sheldon and Marianne Lubar. Photo courtesy of the Department of Computer Sciences

Demand for computer science education is booming, as shown by enrollments that have nearly doubled over the last five years in the UW–Madison Department of Computer Sciences. Students are realizing that, no matter their field of study, exposure to fundamental concepts in computing is beneficial.

As a UW–Madison sophomore told The Capital Times last month in a story about the department’s rapid growth, “Coding is pretty much a requirement for any job or internship.”

No longer just the realm of those in technical fields, computer sciences is a major component of 21st-century education across the spectrum, from anthropology to zoology.

A $7 million gift to the department from Milwaukee businessman Sheldon Lubar and his wife Marianne couldn’t have come at a better time. The Lubars, who have given to other UW–Madison entities such as the business school and law school, believe that computer science is crucial to Wisconsin’s and our country’s future.

“Educating our students and citizens in this science is a very high priority by any measure if our country is to maintain and grow our standard of living. Marianne and I are grateful we can help in this effort,” says Mr. Lubar.

The couple’s gift bolsters one of the nation’s top computer science departments, and its second-oldest, having been founded in 1964.

“Our department’s founders realized early on that computer science was rapidly becoming a distinct field of its own, and that its potential to transform society was nearly limitless,” says Professor Mark D. Hill, department chair and the John P. Morgridge and Gene M. Amdahl Professor of Computer Sciences.

“We are deeply grateful to Shel and Marianne Lubar for investing in our department at a moment when there is such potential to keep growing while maintaining our level of excellence. The scope of this gift really moves us forward,” says Hill.

Funds from the Lubars will endow two chairs and two professorships, plus establish an endowed discretionary fund to meet other key needs. Named chairs and professorships help campuses attract and retain top talent by providing them with salary and research support.

The Lubars’ gift was enhanced in part by the Morgridge match, a challenge issued by fellow alumni John and Tashia Morgridge (both ’55) to encourage gifts of named professorships, chairs and distinguished chairs at UW–Madison.

Sheldon and Marianne Lubar have given widely to other educational and cultural institutions-including the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee Art Museum and Milwaukee Public Museum-as well as their alma mater.

“Shel and Marianne have been such wonderful supporters of UW–Madison, and I’m so pleased they have included the Department of Computer Sciences in their vision,” said John Karl Scholz, Dean of the College of Letters & Sciences, in which the CS department is housed. “Our computer science department is a powerhouse, and the discipline really is essential in the 21st century.”

—Jennifer A. Smith