Great People Scholarships will be Big Part of University’s Financial Equation

Students listen and take notes on their laptop computers during an economics class.Sebastian Puchalski is a first-generation college student who was born in Poland and went to high school in New York City. Now a senior studying civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he is the recipient of a UW Credit Union Great People Scholarship.

“The scholarship opened a huge amount of possibilities for me, as it made studying at the UW-Madison a reality,” he said. “I want to thank the donors not only for the impact they have had on my life but also on the other people’s lives I will help through my work after I leave campus.”

In Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget, UW-Madison would absorb a two-year, $125 million cut in state funding, half of the reduction targeted for public higher education in Wisconsin over the next biennium. The state budget, which won’t be final for months, also includes a proposal to make the University a public authority. Mirroring many facets of Chancellor Biddy Martin’s New Badger Partnership, the new arrangement would grant the University increased flexibility to manage tuition revenue and expenditures.

Chancellor Martin has made clear that a rise in tuition would be accompanied by additional financial aid for qualified students.

We believe that neither origin nor economic circumstance should be barriers to participate in the UW-Madison community.

Chancellor Biddy Martin

That’s where the Great People Scholarship, the top campus fundraising priority, comes in. Some of the boost in financial aid will come from increased tuition revenue, which also will bolster the quality of the educational experience. Great People Scholarships are the private component that will ensure a UW-Madison education is accessible to students from all financial situations. “We believe that neither origin nor economic circumstance should be barriers to participate in the UW-Madison community,” Martin has said.

The UW Credit Union Great People Scholarship is one of many that donors have established over the last two years. Great People Scholarships support the upcoming artists, scholars, educators and scientists who will lead our economy with new ideas and technology. The campaign features a unique University of Wisconsin Foundation match for contributions to student scholarships, including a dollar-for-dollar match for gifts that will be granted to talented students campus-wide.

Donors have given a combined total of more than $13 million for Great People Scholarships so far, and more than two-thirds of Great People recipients to date are first-generation students like Puchalski.

Whatever shape the state budget takes, Great People Scholarships are crucial to guaranteeing the University remains a real option for students in Wisconsin and beyond who dream of being Badgers and shaping a world we cannot yet imagine.