Campus Leadership

Boosting Bucky’s Budget

Alumni advocate for reinvesting in the UW


In January, UW–Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields (left) and UW–Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank attended one of several UW Systemwide events to discuss the impact of budget cuts. Andy McNeill

As the Wisconsin State Legislature begins work on another budget, the Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) is rallying UW–Madison alumni to advocate for more state funding for the UW System. WAA’s Alumni for Wisconsin initiative hopes to surpass its efforts during the previous budget cycle, when nearly 16,000 alumni engaged in the budget process, either through contacting the governor or a legislator, or by attending an advocacy event, according to Mike Fahey ’89, the managing director of state relations for the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association.

For nearly three decades, the initiative has enlisted alumni to educate state legislators about the university’s needs.

“A big part of what we’re doing is providing facts in an era where misinformation abounds,” says Fahey. “We try very hard to provide information on the state budget — why it’s important and what impact state support has on UW–Madison.”

Nancy Schanke ’76, president of the WAA: Fox Valley alumni chapter, says that at first she was nervous about approaching her legislators. “I’ve learned a lot since then and have formed a good relationship with my state senator, even though we often disagree,” she says.

Alumni have partnered with UW–Madison and several UW System schools to organize joint events featuring Chancellor Rebecca Blank and other campus administrators. At UW–Platteville in January, alumni from both schools, as well as business and community leaders, gathered to discuss how budget cuts have affected their campuses and why it’s time for the legislature to reinvest in the UW. This fall, similar events were held at the Eau Claire, Green Bay, Oshkosh, and Parkside campuses, and another is scheduled for River Falls in April.

For the first time, Alumni for Wisconsin is also organizing citizen lobby days — one in Washington, DC, on March 8 and one at the Wisconsin state capitol on April 12 — to give alumni an opportunity to tell their stories on behalf of the university. “We are asking them to share why UW–Madison mattered to them so that legislators can see the value of the university to the people they represent,” says Fahey.

To get involved in advocacy efforts, visit


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