UW-Madison: Grainger Gift Catalyst for New School of Business Addition

CONTACT: School of Business Dean Michael Knetter, 608) 692-3812

MADISON – A $20 million gift from one of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s most generous benefactors is the catalyst for the construction of a new home for the School of Business’ MBA program.

The gift, one of the largest in the history of the university, comes from The Grainger Foundation, Lake Forest, Ill. This gift will fund half of the cost for construction of an addition on the east side of Grainger Hall, home to the existing UW-Madison School of Business.

The Grainger Foundation gave $8 million in 1990 toward the original School of Business building, which bears the Grainger name. At that time, it was the largest single gift in the history of the university.

“This new visionary gift will provide facilities to tap the full potential of a newly revamped graduate curriculum in the business school,” says Chancellor John D. Wiley. “It will enable us to better serve the needs of students, elevate the stature of our graduate business programs nationally and provide a statewide boost for entrepreneurship.”

The new addition to the Park Street side of the existing facility is expected to open its doors to students in fall 2007. Construction will require demolition of a university-owned building at 905 University Ave., home to several campus offices, which will be relocated.

The new facility has a price tag of $40 million. In addition to the $20 million Grainger gift, there will be $10 million in gift funds and $10 million in general fund-supported borrowing.

The 125,000-square-foot addition will allow separation between undergraduate and graduate programs and provide the space required for graduate programs with a significant component of applied learning. The expansion also will create opportunities for enhanced curricular and co-curricular programming for undergraduate business students.

“This is an exciting and rare opportunity, for which we are most grateful,” says School of Business Dean Michael M. Knetter. “The new MBA wing will propel the quality of our professional programs, which are a critical part of the economic infrastructure that enables business to thrive in the state.

“It is no accident that every regional hot spot in the new economy – from Silicon Valley to Research Triangle Park to Austin – has one or more elite business schools that augment the pool of managerial talent through their MBA and executive programs as well as their alumni networks. That is the role we aim to play in Wisconsin,” Knetter said.

The Grainger gift comes at a key time for the School of Business, which has just completed an innovative makeover of its MBA program to focus on career specializations. The new program, which will start in the 2004-05 academic year, allows MBA students to tailor their graduate school experience in one of 14 career specializations, which include areas such as applied security analysis, supply chain management, product management and applied corporate finance.

“Students must choose their career focus as they begin the program,” Knetter explained. “Our history has shown that when you have a cadre of students committed to an area, they develop a stronger connection to their profession and to the school.”

The Grainger Foundation was established in 1952 by William Wallace Grainger, founder of W.W. Grainger, Inc., the leading broad line supplier of facilities maintenance products in North America. The foundation has provided substantive support over the years to a broad range of organizations, including educational, medical and cultural institutions. David and Juli Grainger, who now direct The Grainger Foundation, are both UW-Madison graduates.