In November 2014, UW-Madison received a landmark gift of $100 million from John and Tashia Morgridge. The kind of philanthropic support that sets UW-Madison apart among global institutions of higher education, the gift is the largest single contribution from individual donors in the history of the institution.
The Morgridge gift will inspire and match donations for new and enhanced professorships, chairs and distinguished chairs in an effort to recruit and retain the best educators in the world, according to Chancellor Rebecca Blank. “We are indebted to the Morgridges for their leadership, support and investment in the future of this university and the state of Wisconsin,” Blank says. “This extraordinary gift, and the gifts it will inspire, will shape the UW’s future in ways we cannot even foresee right now.”
Originally from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, the Morgridges have a long history of support for the university—including the next two largest gifts in UW-Madison history: $100 million to establish the Morgridge Institute for Research and $32 million to renovate and expand the School of Education building.
The most recent Morgridge gift is devoted to funding faculty excellence, providing a 1-to-1 match for any other donor who makes a gift to endow a professorship, a chair or a distinguished chair. The university currently has 34 fully endowed chairs and 102 fully endowed professorships, and the effort could double that number. “This is a very Wisconsin gift and a gift very like the Morgridges—it’s not about them,” Blank says. “The names of every one of these endowed chairs will be those of the matching donors, not of the Morgridges.”
While UW-Madison has many competitive advantages for faculty, the distinction and resources that accompany these awards will help ensure that faculty’s quality. By designating the gift for endowed chairs, the impact will ripple out to graduate students who are conducting research, and thousands of students who learn from world-class scholars and researchers. “In the College of Engineering, faculty support is our No. 1 priority, and this gift provides an excellent opportunity for us to reward top faculty and increase the overall quality of our research and education,” says Ian Robertson, College of Engineering dean.
A 1955 graduate of the School of Education, Tashia Frankfurth Morgridge has maintained close ties with the school, serving on its board of visitors and, with her husband, sponsoring scholarships to support students preparing to become teachers. A retired special education teacher, she has been a volunteer teacher for students with learning disabilities.
John Morgridge, a 1955 graduate of the Wisconsin School of Business, has served as president, CEO and chairman of the board of Cisco Systems Inc., and is credited with building the San Jose, California, company into the leading global supplier of computer networking products. Their contribution represents the lead gift of the university’s upcoming comprehensive campaign, which is currently in the planning phase. Both John and Tashia Morgridge serve as co-chairs of the campaign planning committee. An official announcement of the campaign is anticipated in 2015 or 2016.