New undergraduate award honors Wisconsin health care leader

July 18th 2014
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Health care is one of the fastest growing sectors and among the largest employers in the United States. With that growth comes complexity and a need for talented leadership to shape policy. A unique collaboration between hospitals, individual donors, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison will help recognize the health policy leaders of tomorrow.

A new award in honor of Stephen Brenton (B.A.'76, Political Science), the outgoing president of the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA), will support UW-Madison political science majors in the College of Letters & Science interested in health policy. Hospitals across the state joined Brenton's friends and colleagues to celebrate his distinguished career by establishing an endowment that will cover in-state tuition for a UW-Madison student each year.

The Stephen F. Brenton Health Policy Scholar Award will be given to bright UW-Madison undergraduates who are Wisconsin residents, pursuing degrees in political science, and who have demonstrated interest in health policy. The first award will be distributed in spring 2015.

The award was revealed to Brenton at a special event July 16 in Green Bay.

"Steve has spent his entire career — the majority of it right here in Wisconsin — advocating for sound public policy that is the foundation of our high-quality, high-value health care delivery system," says WHA Executive Vice President Eric Borgerding. "He has been a leader and mentor to many in the health care field. Fittingly, this scholarship recognizes Steve's many contributions to health care while helping to develop the leaders of tomorrow."

The scholarship will help ensure future Badgers have access to a world-class education at UW-Madison that prepares them for successful careers and lives.

"The Department of Political Science is extremely grateful to WHA and all of the generous contributors who have made this award possible," says David Canon, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science. "The Brenton Award will support a deserving Wisconsin undergraduate political science student, and this generosity will help train the next generation of health policy leaders in Wisconsin and beyond."

Brenton spent much of his career in health policy, having most recently served as WHA president and CEO since January 2002. His skill in state and federal government relations helped shape the health care landscape in Wisconsin and the nation. He is regarded as a talented strategist adept at bringing together stakeholders to address public policy challenges.

"Wisconsin's health care sector has terrific assets in place, but it faces daunting future challenges," Brenton says. "I'm gratified by this opportunity that will support future health care policy advocates who will engage in essential, and hopefully collaborative, problem solving."

Brenton holds board positions in several health care-related organizations, and has also served on the UW-Madison Political Science Department Board of Visitors and currently serves as treasurer of the Wisconsin Historical Foundation. He will step down from his position at WHA at the end of 2014, and transition to a new role as senior policy advisor.