The University of Wisconsin has always run very big fundraising campaigns and is strong at stating its case for support. The University of Wisconsin Foundation and the Wisconsin Alumni Association have had great success at mobilising their alumni base to support the university. They do this by telling very good stories.
In the Winter 2016 issue of On Wisconsin, Jenny Price ’96 wrote an article called “A Long To-Do List” where “Chancellor Rebecca Blank says it is critical for the next (state) budget to include funding to complete needed repairs and upkeep on buildings across campus”.
The article tells the story of a building boom that happened across most American universities after World War II. It states that 40 percent of the UW campus buildings were constructed in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Those structures, because of the speed in which they were constructed, have not lasted as long as buildings built in other periods.
Simply put, the University of Wisconsin has a backlog of maintenance that has to be done. The price tag amounts to $1.2 billion (yes, billion). The Wisconsin state government has apparently not invested in the repairs over the years and has cut back in may other areas, including academics.
Another article titled Conversation Michael Knetter is an interview with the former dean of the Wisconsin School of Business and now CEO of the UW Foundation. Knetter addresses the concerns alumni have about the UWs relationship with the state legislature. The university is in the public phase of a $3.2 billion (yes, billion) capital campaign. These funds are to be raised by 2020 and the UW Foundation is halfway to this goal. This article ties in nicely with Price’s article and I am sure this is no accident.
Both articles really concerned me because they highlight the fact that the Wisconsin state legislature is not supporting higher education in the way the government has in the past. Additionally, the articles highlighted the fact that philanthropy is even more critical for the University of Wisconsin today than it has been in the past. The articles motivated me and, at the same time, left me with a feeling of great nervousness for the University of Wisconsin. In the end, that’s the real purpose of a case for support.