MADISON – Three synergistic components define a world-class university: the most promising undergraduates, top graduate and professional students, and stellar faculty. Take away any of the three and what remains is just another university.

A new University of Wisconsin Foundation initiative called “Great people. Great place.” will work to nurture that essential human capital at UW-Madison during the next two years, while also bolstering the profile of one of the university’s most vital academic neighborhoods. The initiative offers alumni and friends opportunities to direct gifts to areas of personal meaning and special importance in these two campuswide priorities.

UW-Madison is one of the world’s most respected and influential research-intensive institutions. Maintaining and building this reputation means enhancing the entire intellectual capacity of the campus. It means attracting, retaining and supporting all of the university’s “great people.”

Some of the oldest and most beloved places on the UW-Madison campus are enclosed in the east campus neighborhood bordered by Murray, Dayton and Park streets and the Memorial Union. This area welcomes students, faculty, staff and visitors for athletic, cultural and social gatherings. The East Campus Gateway, part of the campus master plan and based on a century-old classic design, will create a vibrant pedestrian corridor filled with new and upgraded facilities, outdoor public art and inviting plazas. The gateway is a unifying concept that will make the university’s front door more accessible and more beautiful. It will demonstrate why UW-Madison was, is and always will be a “great place.”

Financial support for undergraduates is at the heart of this initiative. University officials estimate that students show eligibility for about $20 million more in financial support than is currently available to them through state, federal and institutional aid. Specifically, the gap between the amount UW-Madison students have with all available funding packages and the cost of tuition, housing and supplies increased nearly 28 percent between 2000 and 2005. Talented students can be accepted by UW-Madison, but the unmet need gap means their dreams are out of reach.

A year ago, the UW Foundation board of directors voted unanimously to allocate $20 million for a need-based financial aid challenge program. Unrestricted campuswide gifts will be matched dollar for dollar; endowment-level gifts directed to a specific school or college will be matched 50 cents to the dollar.

The intent of need-based financial assistance is to include it as part of a total financing package of awards and work-study programs so that qualified students can participate fully in the Wisconsin experience and graduate on time with a manageable debt responsibility.

Graduate student support will also be prioritized. Just as a great university must recruit the best faculty, it also must recruit the best graduate students. The outstanding scholars, teachers and scientists of the future are trained at the graduate and professional levels. UW-Madison has a long-standing reputation for outstanding graduate and professional programs.

Wherever they go during their careers – from academia to private business to public service – these students operate on an international stage carrying the UW-Madison name, reputation and Wisconsin Idea with them.

The “great people” initiative offers two options for graduate support. The Graduate Scholar Fund focuses primarily on supporting individual students. The Graduate Excellence Fund is more flexible and enhances the ability of departments to recruit and retain high-caliber graduate students.

The third critical leg of “great people” concerns faculty. The university offers the opportunity to learn from the masters who wrote the texts, developed the theories, created the masterpieces and engineered the breakthroughs. A faculty with high expectations pushes students further than they thought possible. Likewise, distinguished faculty members are drawn to the intellectual rigor, academic debate, interdisciplinary idea-sharing and international prestige that characterize UW-Madison. They also attract money to the state of Wisconsin.

Competition for the best faculty is intense and escalating. During the past five years, outside offers to UW-Madison faculty have doubled.

Gifts to the “great people” initiative for faculty will increase support through chairs and professorships. The “Faculty Fellow” is a new model for faculty support that allows deans the flexibility to provide named awards and improve retention.

Finally, the East Campus Gateway will be another avenue of activity and opportunity. Projects under the East Campus Gateway umbrella include:

– Memorial Union infrastructure upgrades and renovations

– Chazen Museum of Art addition and sculpture garden

– School of Music performance and academic buildings

– Music Hall renovation

– Green and connecting areas of the mall.

New Ogg Hall welcomed its first students last fall, and the removal of the old Ogg Hall residence towers will allow for more green space. Looking ahead, the Mosse Humanities Building will be demolished and replaced with twin academic buildings to house disciplines in the humanities. Further south, a redevelopment of Gordon Commons is planned, along with construction of a hockey facility at the Kohl Center.

The art department is already benefiting from new facilities, called the Art Lofts, on Frances Street across from the Kohl Center. The Glass Lab and foundry have been relocated to the lofts, and a renovation of 31,000 square feet of additional space will provide instructional labs and art studio spaces now located in three separate sites across campus. Tandem Press will relocate to the same area and share space with the Arts Tower, a new academic building for the art department.

When completed, the East Campus Gateway will be a vibrant center for performing, creating, learning and living.