Milwaukee philanthropist and former U.S. Senator Herb Kohl has donated $10 million to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s La Follette School of Public Affairs.
The gift, which was announced during the university’s commencement ceremony, is the largest in the La Follette School’s history. It is aimed at expanding the school’s public outreach, student and faculty research and efforts to train more future public leaders.
“Our democracy is being threatened by bitter partisanship, and the La Follette School is poised to lead by example – fostering cooperation, respectful discourse, and service to others,” Kohl said. “The school’s commitment to be a convener of thoughtful debate and evidence-based research provides a critical path for moving our country forward.”
Called the Kohl Initiative, the gift will support undergraduate public policy internships, partnerships with nonpartisan organizations, conferences on policy topics and more classes in areas such as public and nonprofit leadership, economic development and social entrepreneurship, the university said.
“Sen. Kohl has shown lifelong dedication to UW–Madison and this gift will provide tremendous opportunities for our students, faculty, staff and community,” said Rebecca Blank, UW-Madison chancellor. “The Kohl Initiative embodies the Wisconsin Idea – especially the initiative’s outreach innovation fund, which will help expand the school’s impact in the state and the nation.”
Kohl’s $1.5 million donation to the La Follette School in 2016 launched the Herb Kohl Public Service Research Competition, which has provided financial support for faculty-student research that informs public policy and governance debates
“Today, more than ever, we need strong public and private sector leaders – people like Sen. Kohl, who thoughtfully and respectfully discuss thorny policy issues,” said Susan Webb Yackee, professor and director of the La Follette School. “UW–Madison has seen tremendous growth in civic engagement among its students, and this gift will allow the La Follette School to educate many more future leaders, who will tackle the world’s toughest problems with an evidence-based approach.”