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September 17, 2020

$32M Commitment from The Grainger Foundation to UW-Madison Engineering will fuel growth

Written By: Renee Meiller

MADISON – A $32 million commitment to the University of Wisconsin–Madison College of Engineering will further propel this prestigious College on its upward trajectory and continue to enhance its ability to attract and support the highest quality faculty and students in the nation.

This latest pledge of support from The Grainger Foundation of Lake Forest, Illinois, is the largest in College history. Cumulative support from the Foundation totals well over $100 million, with other recent major commitments of $25 million and $22 million occurring in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Ian Robertson
Ian Robertson, Grainger Dean of the College of Engineering. Photo: Bryce Richter/UW-Madison.

The $32 million in funding targets important growth areas. This year, the College of Engineering announced an ambitious initiative to expand its student body. In particular, those plans include enrolling an additional 1,000 undergraduate students to meet growing industry demand for engineers with exceptional qualifications.

Attracting a diverse pool of the best students, not only at the state, but at the national level, is critical to that effort. As a result, the College of Engineering will focus $20 million—the largest portion of The Grainger Foundation pledge—on the Strategic Targeted Achievement Recognition (STAR) scholarship program. Capitalizing on the College’s international reputation, this scholarship program will help to ensure the College can recruit and retain top student applicants.

The pledge also will create the Grainger Dean of the College of Engineering, an endowment that will provide its holders the financial flexibility to make strategic investments in opportunity areas that advance the College. The deanship naming recognizes The Grainger Foundation’s and Grainger family’s longstanding commitment to the kind of experience that gives UW–Madison engineering students an advantage—enhancing the resources, services, support and facilities available to them. It also recognizes their commitment to improving the well-being of society by fostering engineering breakthroughs and elevating the visibility and impact of the College’s research.

In recognizing that the excellence of the College depends on recruiting and retaining leading engineering faculty, a portion of the pledge will establish additional Grainger professorships within the College of Engineering. Additional faculty members are an integral part of the College of Engineering’s growth initiative. These professorships will support a diverse group of high-achieving faculty leaders who will bring their research expertise and passion for teaching and mentoring students to bear immediately in the classroom and in the laboratory. The pledge will fully endow or create a total of seven Grainger professorships, bringing the College’s total number of named professorships to 104.

Overall, says Grainger Dean of the College of Engineering Ian Robertson, the $32 million gift will make a big impact in the UW–Madison College of Engineering and beyond.

“I’m extremely grateful to The Grainger Foundation for the decades of confidence it has shown in the leadership and vision of our College. This new funding will greatly increase our ability to extend an outstanding engineering education to an even broader pool of the nation’s talented scholars, ultimately expanding the wave of UW–Madison engineering alumni who already are known for their skills and leadership at all levels of industry, academia, government and society,” he says. “And, by allowing us to recruit and support faculty who care deeply about developing people and excel as researchers, it will allow our College to build on its 170-year tradition of scientific thought leadership and discoveries that daily make a difference in the lives of students on our campus and of people across the globe.”