UWM reveals historic fundraising total: $251 million

As he stood on stage Thursday at the UWM Panther Arena to reveal the final total of UW-Milwaukee’s largest-ever fundraising effort, Chancellor Mark Mone addressed the audience of donors and friends, faculty and staff: “In this moment, we are making history.”

He asked for a drumroll from the band, and the number appeared on the arena’s big screen high above the crowd: $251,466,444. Some in the audience gasped. Confetti fell from above.

“You probably didn’t see that coming,” Mone said. “This is phenomenal, and it sets an incredible foundation for UWM.”

The quarter of a billion dollars raised in the multiyear, university-wide fundraising effort – Made in Milwaukee, Shaping the World: The Campaign for UWM – is 25% higher than the university’s $200 million goal, which was announced publicly in 2017.

Gale Klappa, executive chairman of WEC Energy Group and a co-chair of the fundraising campaign, hugs UWM Chancellor Mark Mone after the fundraising total was revealed. (UWM Photo/Elora Hennessey)

“I am profoundly grateful to our donors for the tremendous success of this campaign,” Mone said. “Their generosity will benefit our students, research and community engagement for years to come.”

More than 21,000 donors contributed to the campaign, and nearly half (49%) were first-time donors. More than 70,000 gifts were received, with UWM alumni giving the largest percentage (27%), followed by corporations (22%), individuals (20%), not-for-profit organizations (17%) and foundations (14%).

More than a third (39%) of the total raised came through gifts of $1 million or more, and 78 donors contributed at least $1 million during the campaign. More than $36 million came through estate gifts.

“Donors play a critical role in the health of a university,” said Patricia Borger, vice chancellor for development and alumni relations. “The outpouring of support from UWM’s alumni, friends, faculty and staff, as well as from businesses and foundations, is inspiring. Our campaign co-chairs generated passion through their significant gifts and enthusiastic leadership. I am deeply grateful for everyone who took part in this campaign.”

‘Education opens doors’

During Thursday’s event, several volunteer co-chairs of the fundraising campaign addressed the crowd.

“I’m a prime example of what you can do when armed with an education,” said Jim Ziemer, who rose from a job as an elevator operator at Harley-Davidson to become the company’s CEO. “Education opens doors. UWM is a Wisconsin success story.”

The Impact of UWM’s Historic Campaign

David Lubar conveyed greetings to the crowd from his parents, Marianne and Sheldon Lubar, who were traveling abroad. The Lubars’ $10 million donation kick-started the effort that resulted in the opening this year of the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center and UWM Welcome Center.

“We are proud to support UWM, and of course, the entrepreneurship center,” David Lubar said. “The entrepreneurship center is everything my parents envisioned and more.”

New buildings, new initiatives

During the campaign, UWM opened the Kenwood Interdisciplinary Research Complex as well as the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center and UWM Welcome Center, and an addition to the Klotsche Center was recently announced. Major initiatives launched during the campaign included the Connected Systems Institute and the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute. All of these were made possible in part by support from donors.

Volunteer co-chairs to the campaign included Michael Falbo, regent emeritus of the UW System; Sheila Falbo, community volunteer; Douglas Hagerman, retired senior vice president of Rockwell Automation; Mary Kellner (’78, ’19), president of the Kelben Foundation; Ted Kellner, chairman and CEO of T&M Partners LLC; Gale Klappa (’72, ’11), executive chairman of WEC Energy Group; Marianne Lubar (’13), president of the Lubar Family Foundation; Sheldon Lubar (’88), founder and chairman of Lubar & Co.; Beth Pritchard (’69), principal and strategic advisor of Sunrise Beauty Studio; W. John Pritchard (’69), partner at Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP; Lorin Radtke (’90), retired partner of Goldman Sachs; and Jim Ziemer (’75, ’86, ’08), retired president and CEO of Harley-Davidson.

To learn more about UWM’s campaign or to read stories of impact, visit uwm.edu/give.

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