The Badger of the Year award recognizes local alumni who have distinguished themselves as someone who generously serves his/her community and embodies the Wisconsin Idea. The award is presented annually at our Bay Area celebration of Founders’ Day. Additionally, award winners from all over the country can be seen on the WAA's website
. As noted below, the award was previously called the Bay Area Distinguished Alumni Award.
To nominate a Bay Area UW alum who has shown generous service to their community, please submit by email
2020 Badger of the Year
Elizabeth Bagley ’02, MS’08, PhD’11
2019 Badger of the Year
John Hale ’82
2017 Badger of the Year
Ronald Albers JD’74
2015 Badger of the Year
Mariah Terhaar '09
As president of the Bay Area Badgers for the past two years, Mariah’s enthusiasm and dedication has contributed to many achievements and growth within the organization. She has been instrumental in bringing in new members and reaching out to UW students interested in moving out to the Bay Area. Mariah currently resides in the Bay Area, and is working as an assistant on the Communications and Policy team at Facebook. Prior to this endeavor, she served as a AmeriCorps VISTA Leader in Fairbanks, Alaska helping fulfill their mission of combating poverty in interior Alaska. Although she is stepping down as President, her schedule will remain full as she prepares for her upcoming wedding!
2014 Badger of the Year
Beth Fuller nominated David Payne for his incredible spirit and commitment to the University of Wisconsin earlier this year, and we were pleased to award David with a well-deserved Badger of the Year Award for 2014. He had some words to say in response, which you can read below. Congratulations, David!
“We see the WAA signs and stickers saying, ‘Proud to be a Badger’ while cheering on the Badgers at every football and basketball game. Well, I am proud to be a Badger. Very proud. I graduated from high school in Springfield, Illinois, which makes me a ‘Badger by choice.’
My University of Wisconsin degree served me very well in advertising and marketing in Chicago, South Bend, St. Louis, and Cleveland, and later on out here in marina operations. I feel lucky. And I am lucky to be a Badger. Very lucky. This honor feels to me far better than anything I can imagine. I really feel blessed.”
— David Payne
2013 Bay Area Distinguished Alumni of the Year
Signe Ostby '75, MBA'77 and Scott Cook
Signe and Scott met in Cincinnati on the product management team at Proctor & Gamble after receiving their MBAs — Scott from Harvard and Signe from the UW. Their careers took them to the Silicon Valley, where Scott was working as a consultant for Bain and Signe was at the forefront of the PC software industry, serving as the vice president of marketing at Software Publishing Corporation. Scott founded Intuit, influenced by Signe's frustration managing the family finances.
Scott continues to be involved with Intuit, inspiring leaders and employees to think creatively and to innovate. Signe has been the consummate Badger, continuing to give back to the UW. She is now actively supporting a program doing research on neurological innovation at the University of Wisconsin. Signe was also instrumental in the founding of the Center for Brand and Product Management at the School of Business. In 2009, both Signe and Scott became partners in the naming fund for the Wisconsin School of Business. Scott and Signe have each looked to support innovation in different ways, but with a vision that is inspiring not only people in business, but also medical research.
As Scott describes it, their marriage has allowed for a limitless supply of "insourced" advice. Their sponsorship of the Center for Brand and Product Management (CBPM) at the UW is widely recognized for developing the next generation of business leaders. Intuit has been a model of innovation, fostering a corporate culture that embraces entrepreneurship.
Scott graduated with a BA from the University of Southern California and an MBA from the Harvard School of Business. Signe graduated with both BBA and MBA degrees from the Wisconsin School of Business.
Scott is an avid cyclist and enjoys skiing, backpacking, and travel to unique destinations. Signe serves on the boards of the CBPM at the UW and the Environmental Defense Fund. In addition, she has been active marketing alpaca hand knitting yarns and even doing some knitting herself.
2012 Bay Area Distinguished Alumni of the Year
Mike Splinter BSEE ’72, MSEE ’74
Mike has spent more than 30 years in the semiconductor industry and nearly ten years as CEO of Applied Materials. Mike started his career with Rockwell Semiconductor and also held leadership positions with Intel. In addition to his professional activities, he is also on the University of Wisconsin Foundation Board and the Board of Trustees for Santa Clara University. Mike is active in numerous technology and philanthropy activities, supporting local, state, national and global organizations.
2009 Bay Area Distinguished Alumni of the Year
John and Tashia Morgridge
John Morgridge and Tashia Frankfurth met while attending high school in the southeastern Wisconsin suburb of Wauwatosa. Following their graduation from Wauwatosa East High School, the pair came to Madison to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison. They graduated in the spring of 1955, and on Aug. 13 of that year, they were married.
Tashia Morgridge earned a bachelor of science degree from the School of Education; in 1975, she received a master’s degree in education from Lesley College in Massachusetts. She is now retired as a special-education teacher and works as a volunteer teacher for the learning disabled. She serves on several boards and is a past member of the University of Wisconsin Foundation Board of Directors.
John Morgridge earned a BBA from the Wisconsin School of Business, and he holds an MBA from Stanford University. He received an honorary doctorate degree from UW-Madison in 1994 and was honored in 1991 as a distinguished business alumnus. He has served on the School of Business Board of Visitors and as an adviser to the business schools at both UW-Madison and at Stanford University, where he sits on the board of trustees.
Longtime champions of UW-Madison, the Morgridges take every opportunity to extol the university’s virtues and contribute to its future. Evidence of their generosity can be seen throughout campus, from Grainger Hall to the lakefront and the Red Gym, where the Morgridge Center for Public Service is now housed. In 2004, the couple gave the university $31 million to complete and renovate the Education Building. In addition, the Morgridges were instrumental donors in the Wisconsin School of Business naming partnership, ensuring that the name of the school will remain for years to come.
For their 41st wedding anniversary, the couple endowed two chairs at UW-Madison rather than exchange traditional gifts. Tashia’s gift to John was a $1.6 million chair in computer science in the College of Letters and Science, while John’s gift to Tashia was a $1.6 million chair in reading in the School of Education.
Grainger Hall’s Morgridge Auditorium is named in honor of the couple, who made the first major gift to the building fund. They also have established scholarships in the School of Education and the School of Business.
John is chair of the board at Cisco Systems in San Jose, Calif. He joined the young company in 1988 as president and CEO. During his tenure as CEO, John grew the company from $5 million in sales to more than $1 billion, and from 34 employees to more than 2,260 employees. In 1990, John took Cisco public; in 1995, he was appointed chair.
The Morgridges are members of the UW Foundation, the Bascom Hill Society and the Wisconsin Alumni Association, and they are actively engaged in many volunteer activities for numerous nonprofit organizations. These include the Morgridge Family Foundation; Interplast, Inc.; the American Leadership Forum for Silicon Valley and the Nature Conservancy. John also is a member of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation’s Board of Trustees, the 21st Century Education Board and the Stanford Business School Advisory Council. Tashia serves on the national advisory board for the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University, a program that served as a model for the Morgridge Center at UW-Madison.
Residents of Portola Valley, Calif., the Morgridges are the parents of three children and have six grandchildren.
2008 Bay Area Distinguished Alumni of the Year
Steve Bennett joined Intuit in January 2000 as the company's president and chief executive officer. "Think smart, move fast" was his mantra during his eight years as president and CEO of Intuit. At Intuit, Mr. Bennett combined the company's historic innovative and customer-driven expertise with strategic and operational rigor to drive solid results.
During his tenure the firm, known for popular business software such as Quicken, QuickBooks and TurboTax, grew to $2.7 billion in fiscal 2007 from less than $1 billion in fiscal 2000. In addition, operating profits grew to $765 million compared to $172 million over the same period and operating margin percentage expanded to nearly 29 percent in fiscal 2007 from 17.5 percent in 2000. Fortune magazine ranked the company on its "Best Places to Work" list six years in a row (2002-2007) and as the most admired U.S. software company from 2004-2007.
Mr. Bennett joined Intuit from General Electric Co., where he managed complex and diverse organizations – from consumer appliances to financial services – during a 23-year career.
Mr. Bennett is a member of the board of directors of public companies Intuit and Sun Microsystems, a private company, Nemean Networks, and is the Chairman of the Deans Advisory Boards for the University of Wisconsin Business School. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a bachelor’s degree in finance and real estate.