Skip to main content

Oscar Rennebohm Foundation made $1 million gift to School of Nursing near spring game

October 12, 2011

The secret is out. The Oscar Rennebohm Foundation made its second $1 million gift to the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Nursing in advance of the Badgers’ spring football game.

The gift was announced this spring, but it was anonymous. The Rennebohm Foundation wanted to spark people’s interest in the school’s plan to build a new home — and it has, says Mary Gulbrandsen, a Rennebohm board member.

Foundation members have continued to meet with other Wisconsin health care and business leaders to encourage gifts for the building and strategic growth at the school, and they are seeing results, she says.

Oscar Rennebohm established the Rennebohm Foundation in 1949 to support education, research, health care and recreation in Madison. Prior to a $1 million December 2010 gift, the foundation had never made a gift to nursing, Gulbrandsen says. “Nursing is certainly part of health care. As we look at what’s happening on campus, the School of Nursing must be part of the overall plan,” she adds.

Many of the nursing faculty members across the state were educated at UW–Madison, Gulbrandsen says. Foundation members feel strongly that the university is essential to educating nurses for Wisconsin.

“The school needs statewide support,” Gulbrandsen says. “Although other universities are also building nursing facilities, many of the faculty will come from Madison. It all works together. You need to make sure you have faculty to work in your School of Nursing.”

“The Rennebohm Foundation has been an absolutely amazing partner for the School of Nursing as we plan for the future,” Dean Katharyn May says. “Literally, their support has helped to ensure that we can grow — as the state and the nation needs us to grow — while maintaining that margin of excellence for which our faculty, students and graduates are known.”

State lawmakers this summer approved $34.8 million in state funding for a new nursing building at UW–Madison. Groundbreaking is scheduled for April 21, with completion in the fall of 2014. As of mid-September, the Power of Nursing Campaign had raised almost $15 million of the $17.4 million in private support needed for the building.

“Three million dollars more is needed for the building, and an additional $3 million for necessary program expansion,” Gulbrandsen says. “Three plus three is what we need now.”

The 160,000-square-foot building (99,000 assignable square feet) includes a 360-seat interactive classroom in which nursing, medical and pharmacy students will collaborate on virtual cases. Nursing students will gain valuable experience in state-of-the-art hospital and home-care simulation rooms. The new building has room for 30 percent more students and faculty, as well as additional programs and research.