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Wisconsin Shines in the Spotlight

500 Alumni gathered in Milwaukee to celebrate the innovations, enthusiasms, and generosity of some exceptional Badgers.

Kate Kail Dixon '01, MA'07
June 15, 2015

A gathering of 600 Badgers is compelling evidence: the combination of teaching, research, and discovery at the University of Wisconsin-Madison makes it a state powerhouse and a global influence.

At a time when the University of Wisconsin was garnering national attention, a June 2015 Wisconsin Ideas: Let the World Know showcase in Milwaukee brought together world-class innovations from UW-Madison experts, with appreciation for the impact of alumni around the world.

The showcase gathered Badgers from across generations who met and mingled with university scientists, professors, administrators, athletes, and coaches, and heard about the state of the university from Chancellor Rebecca Blank.

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In accepting their 2015 Distinguished Alumni Awards, presented by the Wisconsin Alumni Association, honorees Herbert H. (Herb) Kohl ’56 and Allan H. (Bud) Selig ’56 reminded their fellow Badgers about the need to protect Wisconsin’s legacy of education.

“Excellence doesn’t happen easily or overnight,” said Kohl, a former U.S. senator and founder of the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation. “If we want to keep the UW way up there at the top, we have to make sure our effort does not cease.”

Selig, commissioner emeritus of Major League Baseball, drew on his appreciation for history to reflect on the university’s future: “Every generation produces its problems and its challenges. Education faces challenges now. I have faith that all of us will pull together and do what we have to do.”

Attendees also experienced learning games that illustrated the cutting-edge work being done on campus with video games and neuroscience, and they enjoyed Wisconsin food products developed and produced right on campus. (With cold Babcock ice cream and Inaugural Red on tap, it’s hard to beat warm memories of good times on the Memorial Union Terrace.)

The evening also included the announcement of a $50 million gift from Ab ’52, MBA’55 and Nancy ’55 Nicholas, who created a one-to-one matching scholarship fund to support undergraduate and athletic scholarships and graduate fellowships for UW-Madison students. It’s the second-largest household gift in the university’s history.

The emcee for the evening was Badger alum and former Packer Mark Tauscher. He was followed by John ’55 and Tashia ‘55 Morgridge, whose generous gifts to UW include a $100 million matching program to support endowed faculty chairs and professorships. “Nelson Henderson said that ‘true meaning in life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit,’” said Tashia Morgridge. “This is how we plant our trees.”

John Morgridge left his fellow Badgers with a vision about what the University of Wisconsin can mean for future generations. “I hope that, two decades from now, when our great-grandchildren trudge up Bascom Hill on a February day — well, if they have to trudge up that hill, it better be for a damn good school.”

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