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Wisconsin School of Business Homecoming Gala recognizes outstanding alumni, outgoing dean

October 9, 2010 By Melissa Anderson

Wisconsin School of Business Dean Michael Knetter, was honored on Friday, Oct. 8 for his multitude of contributions to the school.

The Wisconsin Naming Partnership collaborated during the past five weeks to raise $5.4 million to honor Knetter for his accomplishments within the school, John Oros and Ted Kellner, two of the 13 original naming partners, announced.

At the gala, Oros said, “Mike Knetter is now the 15th partner of the Wisconsin Naming Partnership.” In 2007, 13 alumni joined together to provide the first-of-its-kind alumni gift of $85 million to preserve the Wisconsin name for at least 20 years. In 2009, an anonymous donor joined the Wisconsin Naming Partnership, bringing the total Wisconsin Naming Gift donation to $90 million. With the honorary gift on Friday, the Wisconsin Naming Gift now totals $95.4 million.

During the presentation, Oros said Knetter was “the brains and the heart”, behind the naming of the Wisconsin School of Business.

“The dean has made a big difference here and we ought to name something after the dean,” Oros said.

After acknowledging the generous gift, Knetter went on to thank the school as well as the university for bringing great satisfaction.

“Thank you all for all you’ve done to help with the progress at the business school,” Knetter tearfully concluded. “The Naming Gift is the most thrilling thing you could do as a partnership.”

In reflecting on his new job as president and CEO of the UW Foundation, Knetter said, “I feel like I’ve found another way to stay connected here.”

Distinguished Business Award winners

Three alumni were honored Friday with the Distinguished Business Alumni award.

Peter Leidel graduated in 1978 with a bachelor’s with honors from UW–Madison and then went on to pursue a master’s from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently a founder and partner at Yorktown Partners LLC., an investment firm managing private equity partnerships. He also serves on the board for the Wisconsin eastern Alumni Scholarship Fund, the Wisconsin School of Business Dean’s Advisory Board, and the University of Wisconsin Foundation Board of Directors.

Stephen Petersen earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Wisconsin School of Business. His is currently the senior vice president and portfolio manager of the VIP Equity-Income Portfolio and the Fidelity Puritan Fund, as well as others, at Fidelity Investments. He serves as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board and funds the Hawk Center for Applied Security Analysis.

Mike Shannon graduated with a bachelor’s in finance and marking from the Wisconsin School of Business in 1980.  He then went on to pursue his master’s at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.  He first founded KSL Recreation Corporation, owner of Colorado ski resorts, but then sold it in 1992.  He then went on to create KSL Capital Partners in 2004, a billion dollar private equity firm.  He currently serves as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board.

Knetter said as parting words, “I would like to thank faculty, staff, students, and alumni, as well as my campus colleagues, for making this a very productive and enjoyable period.  We have made great progress as a school these past eight years and that will have a lasting impact on future generations of business and community leaders. In the process, I feel very fortunate to have made many new friends and colleagues and am pleased that I will continue to work with them in my new role at the UW Foundation.”