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Goodspeed Family Pier Now Open on Lake Mendota

The Goodspeed Family Pier, the first phase in the creation of Alumni Park, now welcomes all water-loving Badgers who are sailing, cruising or paddling their way along Lake Mendota.

July 09, 2013

Mary Sue Goodspeed Shannon ’81 cuts the ribbon and officially dedicates the Goodpseed Family Pier. The pier is the first major element of Alumni Park to be completed. Mary Sue’s husband, Mike Shannon ’80, is pictured on the left, and WAA president and CEO Paula Bonner MS’78 is at the podium on the right.

Alumni will no doubt be among the first to arrive at the Lake Mendota shore of the University of Wisconsin-Madison via the new Goodspeed Family Pier, now welcoming boaters and paddlers of all generations.

The Goodspeed Family Pier is the first phase in the creation of Alumni Park, a gift to the campus from the Wisconsin Alumni Association in honor of the organization’s celebration of its 150th anniversary.

“The UW now has a pier worthy of this great institution, and we all have a new gateway to connect the university with Lake Mendota,” said WAA’s president and CEO, Paula Bonner MS’78. “This pier is a gift to the whole campus community, and generations of alumni to come will make their Badger memories here.”

The pier is uniquely designed to provide docking access for boats and paddlecraft, such as canoes and kayaks. Located off the shore north of the Below Alumni Center, home of the Wisconsin Alumni Association offices on Lake Street, the pier is the lakeside entry to the future Alumni Park, a new green space along the shore of Lake Mendota at the east end of the UW-Madison campus that’s being designed through the talents of the world-renowned design firm Ralph Appelbaum Associates.

The new pier is named for the family of alumni Mike Shannon ’80 and Mary Sue Goodspeed Shannon ’81, whose gift toward the pier expresses their special appreciation and connection to this area of campus. More than 250 alumni and friends celebrated the public opening of the pier at a lakeside ribbon-cutting event on June 27. More than 500 supporters, to date, have provided $6.5 million toward the completion of Alumni Park.

Both “Encore Chancellor” David Ward MS’62, PhD’63 and incoming Chancellor Rebecca Blank (pictured above in the purple jacket) were on hand for the lakeside celebration.
Both “Encore Chancellor” David Ward MS’62, PhD’63 and incoming Chancellor Rebecca Blank (pictured above in the purple jacket) were on hand for the lakeside celebration.

“This pier will be a great addition to the always-memorable experience of enjoying this scenic lakeshore that we are so fortunate to have in the heart of our campus,” Blank said. “It’s one of the reasons people say Wisconsin has one of the most beautiful college campuses in the nation, and everything we do to enhance it adds to the UW’s unique charm.”

“What a wonderful place this will be to gather and appreciate all that this university means to us all,” Ward agreed.

The pier will be open from 6 a.m. to midnight. Docking will be free of charge throughout the welcome month of July. Docking rates of $3 per hour for boats, and $1.50 per hour for paddlecraft, with a two-hour limit, will apply after August 15. Proceeds from docking support the Wisconsin Alumni Association and pier operations.

For the safety of all lake users, swimming is not permitted from or near the pier. Details about pier access and Alumni Park are available at

Slated to open in 2015, Alumni Park will be a vibrant promenade that connects UW’s most popular gathering places — the shore of Lake Mendota and Library Mall — in the corridor that runs between the Red Gym and the Memorial Union, from Lake Mendota to Langdon Street.

Alumni Park will celebrate the unique spirit of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and tell the story of how the contributions, discoveries and personalities of the university and its alumni have made an impact across the state and around the world.

The Goodspeed Family Pier, By the Numbers

  • 25: number of boats, canoes and kayaks that can tie up at the pier at once. The east-west floating dock can accommodate 17 boats; the north-south canoe and kayak slip can hold eight craft.
  • 21: number of pilings that support the permanent pier. Each is 12.75 inches in diameter.
  • 23: minimum depth that each of those pilings is driven into the lake bed
  • 787: linear feet of shoreline that were restored during this project
  • 3,148: linear feet of stone needed to make the facing for that shoreline
  • 2,011: linear feet of stone salvaged from the previous shoreline for reuse. (Some 461 tons of stone were too damaged.)
  • 297: new limestone blocks needed to complete the shoreline. (They were quarried at Halquist Stone in Sussex, Wisconsin.)
  • 350: cubic yards of concrete poured as the foundation for the new shoreline

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