They might be retired officially, but Martha and Charles “Chuck” Casey haven’t stopped working on behalf of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Both hold doctoral degrees in organic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1968, Chuck accepted an assistant professorship in organometallic chemistry at the University of Wisconsin. The Caseys have been part of the campus community for more than 40 years.
Chuck is emeritus professor of chemistry and still can be found daily in his office in the Irving Shain Chemistry Research Tower. Martha lectured and was a research associate in chemistry during her early career, but soon found a niche in administration. She is assistant vice chancellor emerita for academic planning and analysis. In addition to their career contributions, the couple’s gift to the University community will be their unique and thoughtful philanthropy.
Martha serves on the UW Foundation’s Women’s Philanthropy Council, which advocates deliberately discerning one’s individual priorities and using those interests as a guide to direct one’s philanthropy. “What is really most difficult is to determine what is important to you,” said Martha.
“There are many areas where programs don’t have enough, and a modest amount of money can make a significant difference.”
Charles “Chuck” Casey
“There are many areas where programs don’t have enough, and a modest amount of money can make a significant difference.” Chuck added, “Look around and see what the needs are, based on your personal experience.”
“Faculty and staff know what is going on at the University,” said Martha. “People who work here know where the needs are. Our awards recognize people doing the things that make the University great. They are really designed to enhance morale.”
The Martha Casey Award for Dedication to Excellence is given annually to an academic staff person who has been nominated by their supervisor or peers for their outstanding work. The Charles P. and Martha L. Casey Chemistry Fund supports research excellence awards for students completing their doctoral research, recruitment of the best graduate students and, eventually, a special annual lecture in organometallic chemistry.
“When I was a chair, these were the things I was trying to raise money for,” said Chuck. “This is such a great University, among publics–at the very top. We feel we’re part of it and want to keep it in the top tier.”
At the University, the Caseys also support campus child care, opera and the Great People Scholarship Campaign.
The Caseys want their gifts to enhance the University experience, not fund basic needs. They recently made a bequest to ensure continued funding of their projects for at least 20 years.
Eileen Hanneman was the first recipient of the Martha Casey Award for Dedication to Excellence in 2006. “My director nominated me because she came in from outside the UW, and she relied on my institutional knowledge,” said Hanneman. “It really made me feel special—like she and others recognized and appreciated all the years I had been doing my job.” Linda McDonald, the 2008 recipient, echoed this sentiment. “I was just amazed when I found out I was nominated,” said Linda. “I am incredibly honored and humbled to have received this award. It is definitely a morale booster.”