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UW kicks off comprehensive campaign at Kohl Center event

October 15, 2015 By John Allen

Photo: All Ways Forward banner on Kohl Center stage

The stage curtain opens behind Chancellor Rebecca Blank to reveal the All Ways Forward title of the fourth comprehensive fundraising campaign in the 167-year history of UW–Madison, with a goal of raising $3.2 billion.


With the pomp of a chancellor’s address and the enthusiasm of a Homecoming crowd, the campaign for the University of Wisconsin–Madison kicked off at the Kohl Center Thursday night. Titled All Ways Forward,” the campaign is an effort to increase private support for the university.

All Ways Forward, noted UW–Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, is “only the fourth comprehensive fundraising campaign in our history — and by far the biggest,” with a goal of bringing in $3.2 billion by the end of the decade.

On the Thursday before the Homecoming game, more than 1,000 alumni, donors, students, faculty, staff and members of the Madison community packed the Kohl Center’s floor. They saw some of the myriad ways that the UW affects the lives of people around the globe and the role that private donations play in making the university’s work possible.

Photo: Guests having dinner onstage

More than 1,000 guests enjoyed a strolling dinner at the fundraising kickoff event, held at the Kohl Center on the UW–Madison campus.

Students, faculty, researchers and campus organizations presented at stations representing the campaign’s four university-wide priorities: 1) providing student support; 2) enhancing the educational experience; 3) maintaining faculty excellence; and 4) supporting research and innovation.

During her remarks, Blank highlighted the momentum of the first two years of the “quiet phase” of the campaign, including landmark contributions from John and Tashia Morgridge (matching gift for faculty support, which resulted in $250 million in new gifts), Albert and Nancy Nicholas ($50 million matching gift for scholarships and fellowships), Jerome and Simona Chazen ($28 million to support art education on campus), and the Grainger Foundation ($47 million to support the College of Engineering).

Photo: Rebecca Blank

During her remarks, Chancellor Rebecca Blank highlighted the momentum of the first two years of the “quiet phase” of the campaign. “These are the kinds of gifts that transform a campus,” she said.

“These are the kinds of gifts that transform a campus,” Blank said. “They strengthen our ability to attract top-notch teachers and researchers, who in turn make us more competitive for federal research dollars and help us to attract the best faculty, staff and students.”

As a result of the Morgridge gift, for instance, the university has dramatically increased funding for endowed faculty chairs and professorships. Before the Morgridges made their offer in November 2014, the UW had 142 fully funded chairs and professorships. Less than a year later, the university has 300. New endowments exist in all 11 of UW–Madison’s schools and colleges, enabling faculty to pursue more innovative teaching and research.

Photo: Audience members bathed in red light

Audience members applaud a speaker at the event, which featured remarks by UW professors, donors, alumni, and university and UW Foundation leaders.

The campaign’s quiet phase has been underway since July 2013. Over that span, the UW Foundation — UW-Madison’s fundraising and gift-receiving organization — has collected more than $1.2 billion in gifts and pledges, some 38 percent of the campaign’s goal.

Former Badger and Green Bay Packer Mark Tauscher and donor Mary Sue Shannon served as emcees at the event. Other speakers included former chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (and 2007 Nobel Prize honoree) Jonathan Patz, UW Foundation president and CEO Michael Knetter, and donors John and Tashia Morgridge. The campaign is expected to run until 2020. For more information, visit

UW-Madison is the state of Wisconsin’s land-grant institution. Founded in the state’s 1848 constitution, it is now in its 167th year. UW–Madison ranks among the best in universities in the world and boasts nearly 400,000 alumni worldwide.

Photo: Man wearing Bucky Badger necktie

One attendee summed up the school spirit evident in the Kohl center, showing his UW–Madison loyalties by sporting a Bucky Badger necktie.

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