UW receives largest donation in history

The University of Wisconsin-Madison announced Saturday it will receive a $100 million gift from John and Tashia Morgridge, the largest contribution from individual donors in the school’s history.

The donation is to be used exclusively for recruiting and retaining world-class faculty through endowed chairs and endowed professorships. Some of the money will be allocated for salaries, but a substantial amount will help launch research of top-flight faculty and hire students to work with them.

The gift is equal to about 5 percent of the university’s total endowment. The Morgridges also are co-chairing the UW’s fundraising campaign planning committee.

“We are indebted to the Morgridges for their leadership, support and investment in the future of this university and the state of Wisconsin,” said UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank. “This extraordinary gift, and the gifts it will inspire, will shape the UW’s future in ways we cannot even foresee right now.”

The gift Morgridges was announced through a video played on the Camp Randall Stadium scoreboard at the end of the first quarter Saturday’s football game between the UW and the University of Nebraska.

The UW has 34 fully endowed chairs and 102 fully endowed professorships. The effort championed by the Morgridges could double those numbers.

The Morgridges were high school sweethearts at what is now Wauwatosa East High School. They both graduated from the UW-Madison in 1955.

John Morgridge, 81, is a graduate of the UW School of Business. He earned his master’s degree in business administration from Stanford University. He was was president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Cisco Systems Inc., a global supplier of computer networking products. He is now chairman emeritus of Cisco and is a member of the Forbes 400 with a current net worth that Forbes estimates at $1.1 billion.

Tashia Frankfurth Morgridge is graduate of the UW School of Education. She later earned a master’s degree in education from Lesley University in Massachusetts. A retired special-education teacher, she has been a volunteer teacher for the disabled.

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