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Wisconsin Idea Database reveals UW–Madison’s positive impact across all 72 counties

April 17, 2024 By Jason Gohlke
Aerial photo of UW–Madison's campus

Latest data from the Wisconsin Idea Database project show how UW–Madison provides educational opportunities, builds the workforce and economy in every county in the state. Photo: Jeff Miller

Key takeaways:

  • To accomplish its educational and research missions, UW–Madison partners with more than 3,000 state businesses and organizations yearly, spending at least $360 million on goods, services and grants.
  • The 16,700 Wisconsin-resident undergraduates at UW–Madison receive $103.8 million in institutional financial aid. Just over 14% receive financial aid that covers the full amount of tuition and fees.
  • Nearly 184,000 UW–Madison alumni live in Wisconsin; 49,000 of them graduated within the last ten years.
  • You can view county-level impact on the Wisconsin Idea Database website.

From urban Milwaukee to rural Washburn County, the University of Wisconsin–Madison is making a significant impact on Wisconsin students, communities and health care, according to the latest available data from the Wisconsin Idea Database project. The project, which highlights connections between UW–Madison and the State of Wisconsin, outlines county and statewide enrollment trends, alumni counts, community partnerships and projects, financial relationships and more.

“The Wisconsin Idea, UW–Madison’s tradition of influencing lives beyond campus, has been integral to the university’s culture and mission essentially since its founding,” notes Charles Hoslet, vice chancellor for university relations. “The database project demonstrates in fine detail how consistently the university fulfills that promise to people and communities across the state of Wisconsin in ways large and small.”

Here’s an overview of UW–Madison’s statewide impact. Data comes from the 2022-23 academic year unless otherwise specified.

Expanding access to higher education

As of fall 2023, there were at least 16,716 undergraduates from Wisconsin enrolled at UW–Madison. Of those students, just over 14% — or about 2,390 Wisconsin undergraduates — were receiving aid covering the full amount of tuition and fees through either Bucky’s Tuition Promise or the Badger Promise. Overall, the university awarded about $103.8 million in financial aid to Wisconsin resident undergraduates in 2022-23. More than 65% of all UW–Madison students who graduated in 2022-23 graduated debt-free.

UW–Madison is creating new ways for Wisconsin residents to access a world-class education. This past fall, the university began awarding aid under Bucky’s Pell Pathway, which covers the full financial need for Pell-eligible students, including tuition, housing, food and other expenses. Beginning in fall 2024, the Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise program will guarantee scholarships and grants to meet the full in-state cost of attendance for Wisconsin residents who are pursuing their first undergraduate degree and are enrolled members of federally-recognized Wisconsin Indian tribes.

Overall, nearly 184,000 (183,927) UW–Madison alumni currently live in Wisconsin, in every county in the state. More than 49,000 of them, or 27% of all living alumni in the state, graduated within the last ten years.

According to the most recent First Destination Survey, 72 percent of undergraduates who graduated in the 2022-23 academic year received job offers before commencement. 100 percent of survey respondents had participated in internships, co-op experiences, employment or volunteer work during their time at UW–Madison. And 84 percent agreed that their education at UW–Madison prepared them for the next step in their career path.

Bolstering PK-12 education across the state

The university is helping ensure a quality education for the state’s PK-12 students through the UW–Madison School of Education Wisconsin Teacher Pledge. UW–Madison teacher education students who pledge to work at a Wisconsin public or private school for three to four years after graduation are awarded the equivalent of in-state tuition and fees and any testing and licensing costs. This year, 354 teachers who participated in this program are teaching in classrooms across 88 Wisconsin public school districts and 14 private schools. As of spring 2024, 773 students had taken the Teacher Pledge.

Training the state’s future health care professionals

UW–Madison partners with more than 500 health care facilities around the state to provide critical on-the-job training to UW–Madison medical, nursing and pharmacy students. This total includes statewide and regional health care systems and retail pharmacies, non-profit and public sector institutions of all sizes, small hometown businesses and clinics and everything in between.

Many graduates stay in state and continue to provide high-quality care. As of October 2023, more than 18,700 alumni of UW–Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health, School of Nursing and School of Pharmacy live in Wisconsin — in all 72 counties.

Building Wisconsin’s economy

Between July 2022 and June 2023, UW–Madison partnered with 3,100 Wisconsin businesses, individuals and organizations, paying out more than $360 million in contracts for goods and services and other contributions (such as grants). These transactions include everything from major ongoing vendor relationships to one-time purchases.

Employers from across Wisconsin seek out professional development opportunities at UW–Madison. During the 2022-23 fiscal year, employees at more than 650 Wisconsin businesses and organizations benefited from course offerings from Interdisciplinary Professional Programs (InterPro), the UW–Madison College of Engineering’s advanced training center. In that same period, 236 state businesses sent employees to the Center for Professional and Executive Development in the Wisconsin School of Business.

UW–Madison remains central to advancing Wisconsin’s world-class dairy and cheese-making reputation. Thirty-seven different cheese manufacturers employ master cheesemakers, as certified by the Center for Dairy Research, at 45 Wisconsin facilities.

Local collaborations, research and outreach

The Wisconsin Idea Database website details hundreds of individual collaborations between UW–Madison and Wisconsin communities, including a report for each county.

For more than a century, the UW Division of Extension has supported local leaders and volunteers all over the state in focus areas that include agriculture, health and well-being, families and finances and natural resources. They work year-round with well over 2,000 distinct partners that serve anywhere from one to all 72 counties.

Badger Talks is a unique program that connects UW–Madison experts with local communities around the state, engaging Wisconsin residents on topics they care about. Between July 2022 and June 2023, Badger Talks facilitated 205 individual talks hosted around the state, in 45 counties and 93 cities, towns and villages, from Spooner to Beloit. 116 individual speakers hosted 162 in-person talks and 42 online, sharing the latest UW research at the local level. These free talks are initiated by Wisconsin schools, businesses, associations, and professional and civic organizations, who can request a speaker online.

Another example is the UniverCity Year program, in which UW–Madison students and faculty partner with Wisconsin counties and local governments to help solve their real-world problems through coursework. Participating students get valuable experience and local communities benefit from their work. As of April 2024, UniverCity has partnered with 35 Wisconsin local governments, including 18 counties and 17 cities, towns and villages.

About the Wisconsin Idea Database project

The Wisconsin Idea Database project, managed by staff in UW–Madison’s Office of Strategic Communication, demonstrates the ways the university benefits every part of the state through career preparation, economic development, innovative partnerships and workforce development. It is part of a broader campus commitment to improving the lives of all Wisconsinites through world-class academics, research and service.

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