From the CEO

Photo of Michael Knetter


The Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association takes pride in engaging the alumni, donors, and friends of UW–Madison and providing opportunities for them to support the university. In 2015, the university experienced one of the most challenging budget cycles in its history. Along with the budget cuts, changes to the policies that protect academic freedom added more uncertainty to the environment.

Of course, this university wasn’t built on a single budget cycle, and it won’t be defined by this one. Generous donors and volunteers such as you have put a strong wind at our backs that is being felt every day. In October 2015, UW–Madison publicly launched the fourth comprehensive campaign in its history, announcing an ambitious goal to raise $3.2 billion by the end of 2020. Less than a year after the public announcement, I’m delighted to report, we passed the halfway mark in our dollar goal, thanks to the generosity of thousands of alumni and friends.

The first half of the campaign was marked by transformational gifts. Hundreds of new professorships and scholarships were created in response to the inspirational matching challenges set forth first by John and Tashia Morgridge and then by Ab and Nancy Nicholas. Jerome and Simona Chazen pledged to donate valuable pieces of art from their private collection to the Chazen Museum, and the Mead Witter Foundation ensured that the School of Music will soon have a beautiful, new home for its performances.

However, we know that overall success in the campaign requires a total team effort. Think of the wave at Camp Randall: it starts with a few people, but it falters unless everyone participates. In the same way, the university benefits from every gift — no matter the size — that can help to support its future success. Donors capable of the largest gifts are inspired when we all do our part. It’s the Badger way.

I’m so thankful to the thousands of donors who have already participated in the campaign — who joined in during the first round of the wave — and I’m excited and optimistic for the second round. Together, we will keep UW–Madison moving All Ways Forward.

On, Wisconsin!

Michael M. Knetter
President and CEO, Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association