To paraphrase Rick Blaine, 2015 was a year like any other, only more so. Over its course, UW-Madison scored some wins (basketball, big prizes) and suffered some losses (basketball, budgets). As 2015 comes to an end, the Wisconsin Alumni Association looks back on 12 months of Badger news.
January: We’re Golden
A Badger storm hit Hollywood as Transparent, an Amazon-original television series created by Jill Soloway ’87, won the Golden Globe.
February: Budget Blues
When Wisconsin governor Scott Walker submitted his 2015-17 biennial budget proposal, the UW System took it on the chin. System — which oversees the state’s 13 four-year-degree granting institutions, including UW-Madison — faced a $300 million cut. The public debate lasted months, and at the end the cut was reduced — to $250 million.
March: Don’t Get March Mad. Get March Even.
The Badger men’s basketball team won the Big Ten title and ran through the NCAA tournament, returning to the Final Four. The Badgers would face Kentucky in the semifinal, the team that had beaten the UW in the 2014 semifinal game. This year, the Badgers knocked off the previously undefeated Wildcats.
April: All Good Things …
The Badgers’ run came to a sad end in a loss to the Duke Bluedevils in the NCAA tourney’s final. Bummer.
May: Katie’s Cheesy Commencement
The UW landed a celebrity for its commencement speaker, when Katie Couric (formerly of the Today Show and CBS Evening News) agreed to address the Class of 2015.
Hoping to inspire gifts for scholarships, alumni Ab ’52, MBA’55 and Nancy ’55 Nicholas offered $50 million in matching funds for those who give to support undergraduate and athletic scholarships and graduate fellowships.
July: GPU Turns 15
Grandparents University, the popular WAA learning program that brings grandparents and grandchildren together for a campus experience, marked its 15th summer. Ironically, if GPU were a child, it would now be too old to participate in GPU, which is for children ages 7 to 14.
August: Fun with Frank
No — August isn’t a busy month on campus. But in June, the UW saw two of its basketball players selected in the NBA draft’s first round, and one was Frank Kaminsky ’15. WAA chased of the summer blahs by bidding a fond farewell to the seven-foot-tall Badger, whom we’ll miss seeing around campus.
September: Better Call Paul
The Badger football team entered a new era as former quarterback Paul Chryst ’88 became head coach. The Badgers dropped their first game — against perennial powerhouse Alabama — but went on to a 9–3 regular season record and berth in the Holiday Bowl.
October: Nobel News
Want reflected glory? We got reflected glory. UW alumni added another Nobel laureate to the fold when grad William Campbell MS’54, PhD’57 won a share of the prize for medicine and physiology. Campbell did research that helped lead to the discovery of avermectin, a drug which treats river blindness and elephantiasis.
November: All in the Family
Though she didn’t show up for the holidays, you met a newly discovered relation on the cover of November’s On Wisconsin: Homo naledi, a new species of hominid discovered by a group that included UW archaeologist John Hawks. H. naledi has made the rounds of celebrity appearances, including on National Geographic, 60 Minutes, and the New York Times.