Nobody normally wants the blues, but the arrival of Mendota Blue on the Memorial Union Terrace at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is cause for celebration.
Limited blue editions of the well-loved chairs debuted Sunday, April 28, on the Terrace for the kickoff of the Mendota Blue Movement campaign, part of the Memorial Union Reinvestment project. The campaign, which runs through July 31, will enable donors to receive one of the blue chairs with a gift of $1,000.
Joy Amundson (’76 BA L&S), who serves on the Wisconsin Union’s Campaign Cabinet, jumped at the opportunity to own a piece of Badger history.
“I love the Mendota Blue campaign,” she said. “There’s no single thing that represents the Memorial Union better than the Terrace chair. People will send me pictures of the Terrace chairs. I have a friend who takes a lot of pictures. Whenever she sends me a picture of a Terrace chair, even just the back end, you know it’s a Memorial Union chair.
“It’s so iconic,” said Amundson, who grew up in Madison, owns property here and makes her main residence in Naples, Florida. “I don’t know if they’re ever going to make them available again. I said, ‘I’ll take 10 of them.’ They are going to be on my patio on the lake.”
The UW Credit Union is a partner in the Mendota Blue campaign, and its members can make gifts directly through the credit union’s Web Branch.
“It has been a lot of fun planning this campaign,” UW Credit Union President and CEO Paul Kundert said. “The level of enthusiasm and support, especially from individuals like Joy Amundson, has been inspiring. We are proud to support this campaign and encourage alumni and the entire community to get involved by visiting mendotablue.org and making a donation to the Memorial Union Reinvestment project.”
Amundson is a journalism graduate and a member of the boards of visitors for the College of Letters & Science and for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She and her husband, David, are football season ticket holders, fund a family undergraduate scholarship and support other campus initiatives.
“The Memorial Union means so much to me,” Amundson said. “The Union is in a great location, has great views, great services and inspires great memories. It’s time to renovate for the future so the next generation of Badgers can enjoy the Memorial Union.”
The 300 blue chairs will be mixed in with the traditional green, yellow and orange chairs on the Terrace through the campaign’s end. They will be removed to be cleaned and touched up if necessary. Donors will receive their Mendota Blue chairs after September 1.
Thank-you gifts are available at lower gift levels as well. Those who give $150 or more will receive a Mendota Blue mini-chair and those who give at least $75 will receive a Mendota Blue keychain, while supplies last.
The Mendota Blue Movement was in a quiet phase until Sunday’s announcement, but Amundson found herself working behind the scenes to help it hit the ground running.
She was at a recent Letters & Science Board of Visitors meeting and talked with other members about the campaign and blue chairs. “They were so excited about getting chairs,” she said. “All you have to do is tell somebody you can actually own a chair like that, and they stand in line.
“One of the guys said, ‘I’ll take one.’ His wife said, ‘We’ll take two.’ Then he asked, ‘How many are you getting?’ I said, ‘I’m getting 10.’ He said, ‘OK, we’ll take four then,’” Amundson said with a laugh.
Supporting the university through gifts and service means a lot to Amundson.
“When I went to school at the University of Wisconsin, it had a high academic ranking. Now it has an even better ranking on a global academic basis,” she said. “It’s so crucial to do what we can to sustain that ranking.
“I just think it’s important to be involved with something bigger than I am,” she said. “I had such a wonderful experience at Wisconsin, and I love the fact that it’s one of the top 20 academic centers in the world. It’s done such a great job of representing the people of Wisconsin, and it’s one of the finest institutions in the world.”