Earlier this month, University of Wisconsin alumni John and Tashia Morgridge announced a new $70 million matching opportunity to support faculty recruitment and retention at the university.
The matching opportunity will run until Dec. 31, 2020, according to UW News, and the goals are to create endowed professorships, chairs and distinguished chairs based on the current campus faculty fund guidelines.
According to UW News, the Morgridges have invested millions of dollars into the faculty, research, students and future of the university. Throughout the last several years, the couple has provided donations and facilitated matching grant opportunities to give back to the university that began their careers.
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The Morgridges both graduated from UW in 1955. According to Forbes, after completing his undergraduate degree, John Morgridge progressed to earn his MBA from Stanford University Graduate School and became the CEO of Cisco, a fast-growing multinational technology company, in 1988. According to UW News, Tashia Morgridge worked for many years as a special education teacher and is now a volunteer teacher for students with learning disabilities.
According to UW News, the Morgridges maintained their close connection with the university over the years. Their persistent generosity assisted and progressed almost every facet of UW, and the couple is among some of the school’s most prominent philanthropists.
During an interview in 2017, John Morgridge said the $20 million they donated that year was to preserve the UW as a premier teaching and research organization, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
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Their previous donations helped to fund student scholarships, faculty research and retention. According to UW News, these same goals propelled the initiative for the current matching opportunity.
According to UW News, the Morgridge 2020 match grant opportunity is available to donors who want to establish or amplify a funded professorship or chair fund. The endowed positions from these grants distribute income annually to encourage and assist faculty salary and research. The one-to-one nature of this match provides private support which allows UW to both maintain and advance its highly distinguished faculty.
The Morgridges’ endowments throughout the years began to build the foundation of a distinguished faculty. UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank said the couple’s positive impact on the university will extend for generations to come, according to UW News.
Since the launch of UW’s All Ways Forward Campaign, a movement to bring Badger donors together to help the university achieve its goals, the university’s endowed professorships and chairs more than doubled, according to UW News.
According to the All Ways Forward website, the initiative brought together hundreds of thousands of alumni and friends to make sure UW maintains its status as a leading educational institution.
Senior Vice President and Chief Advancement Officer at the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association Alisa Robertson said private support provides 14% of the UW’s budget annually, in addition to chairs and professorship funds, donors fund scholarships, facility projects, research, educational program improvements and outreach.
“Private support helps the UW attract and retain the world’s best faculty and ensures the world-class education at UW is accessible to as many people as possible,” Robertson said.
During the UW’s current campaign, more than 3,800 new scholarships were created along with 350 new faculty chairs and professorships. In addition, donors made significant gifts to support key facility projects like the chemistry building, the new Nicholas Recreation Center, the Babcock Hall renovation and more, Robertson said.
UW Department of Economics Chair Ananth Seshadri said alumni donations help maintain and enhance UW’s excellence, especially in an era of declining state support. State regulation plays a more prevalent role in dictating how departments should use their funding instead of faculty consistently being able to decide the direction and use of their funds.
“These alumni donations make the margin of excellence possible,” Seshadri said. “They help us attract and retain remarkable talent which is really what makes an institution such as UW-Madison great.”
The UW Department of Economics has previously received Morgridge Opportunity Grants and other alumni funding. Seshadri said with these resources made available by alumni, the department is able to conduct workshops, seminars and symposiums, and maintain its excellence in the competitive nationwide rankings.
The exhibited display of everlasting Badger pride seen in the donations of the Morgridges and thousands of other alumni throughout the years, Robertson said, motivated successive classes of graduates to continue to give back to UW.
“Donors love to see the impact of their giving,” Robertson said. “That is one of the main reasons why people choose to make additional gifts.”