A group of alumni of the University of Wisconsin-Madison are donating $85 million so the Wisconsin School of Business doesn’t change its name.
Not for at least 20 years.
The gift, the largest in UW-Madison’s history, was announced Saturday. School leaders say it’s a unique take on naming, which typically involves a single donor or entity and a stipulation that the name change will be permanent.
The group, called the “Wisconsin Naming Partnership” thought differently. They wanted to preserve the tradition of the school’s name and build on its reputation, a news release said. But they didn’t want to block any future names or the millions of dollars that often come with such donations. So they’ve stipulated that after 20 years, the name can be changed again.
“We’re just very fortunate that we’ve been able to preserve the option value and preserve the brand of the school,” said Michael Knetter, dean of the Wisconsin School of Business.
Knetter announced the gift on Saturday in front of 1,000 people graduates, students and others at a homecoming gathering. Originally it had 12 people donating a minimum of $5 million. But as the Wisconsin Badgers took on Indiana, another alumnus approached Knetter and decided to donate $5 million, too, bringing the total to 13 donors, he said.
Eleven donors have been named and two are anonymous. Alumni named include Paul Collins, a graduate from 1958, who is the retired vice chairman of Citigroup and lives in London. Sheldon Lubar, founder and chairman of Lubar & Co., Inc., joined the partnership on Saturday.
The partnership will provide advice to the business school on future naming opportunities. Knetter said he looks forward to working with the panel. He said the bulk of the money will go to people and programs, not facilities.
Donor Ab Nicholas said the group was inspired by the commitment of Wisconsin business students have for the school.
“They have shown that they are willing to pay for quality. And so are we,” said Nicholas, who earned undergraduate and graduated degrees at the school and lives in Chenequa, Wis. “We hope this naming gift inspires an even broader group of alumni to give back to the university that helped shape who they are today.”
The Associated Press
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