L&S nets $100 million from Morgridge match

September 8th 2015
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Last fall, John and Tashia Morgridge issued a challenge to their fellow University of Wisconsin-Madison alumni and supporters: They would match up to $100 million in donations to fund new and enhanced endowments for named professorships, chairs and distinguished chairs at the university.

Alumni and friends of the College of Letters & Science answered that challenge.

Donors have committed an extraordinary $50 million — $100 million with the Morgridge match — to fund 57 new or enhanced professorships, chairs, and distinguished chairs and staff positions in the College of Letters & Science.

[caption id="attachment_17691" align="alignleft" width="300"]John and Tashia Morgridge inspired more than 1,000 other donors with their matching gift challenge. John and Tashia Morgridge inspired more than 1,000 other donors with their matching gift challenge.[/caption]

The incredible outpouring of financial support will create 41 new professorships, chairs and distinguished chairs — three more are expected this month — and enhance 13 existing funds. The gifts benefit departments across L&S, from the arts and humanities, to the social sciences, to the natural and physical sciences.

"I am humbled and inspired by the generosity and support of our alumni and friends," says John Karl Scholz, dean of the College of Letters & Science. "These investments provide critical support and are a profound honor for our faculty and staff as they pursue scholarship and research at this extraordinary institution."

In total, the Morgridge match effort has generated nearly $250 million in new endowment dollars for the university. The Morgridges originally said they would match up to $100 million in donations when they made the landmark announcement — the largest single contribution from individual donors in the history of UW-Madison — last November. University leaders thought it would take two to three years to fulfill the match. Instead, within seven months, more than 1,000 generous donors responded. In the end, those donations reached $125 million, an amount the Morgridges agreed to match.

The gifts will be invested in the UW Foundation's endowment and, once fully funded, will generate more than $11 million in annual payments to schools and colleges for the faculty who hold these chairs. By the time the gifts are paid, UW-Madison will have 300 fully endowed professorships and chairs, up from 142. The new faculty chairs are located in every school and college.

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank says the gift is an investment in UW-Madison students for generations to come. She says it is important to note that state, federal and tuition dollars can't be used to fund named faculty chairs.

"The generosity of John and Tashia Morgridge and the hundreds of proud Badgers who joined them will transform our ability to retain and attract top talent," Blank says. "This is about much more than the dollars that go to the faculty members. It is about the ability to recruit and retain outstanding faculty who attract top graduate and undergraduate students and compete for federal research dollars."