New Alumni Pier Opens on Lake Mendota

Snips ahoy! Mary Sue Goodspeed Shannon cuts the ribbon to officially open the Goodspeed Family Pier, as Mike Shannon (left), Bucky, and Paula Bonner cheer her on. The pier was named in honor of Mary Sue’s father and siblings. Photo: Andy Manis.

The long-awaited amenity is already a crowd-pleaser.

The next time you visit campus, consider arriving by boat. For the first time ever, you’ll have a place to park the craft. The new Goodspeed Family Pier, which opened in June, fulfills a longtime need for boat docking near campus and is destined to become the heart of a new tradition. The pier is the first phase in the creation of Alumni Park, a gift to the campus from the Wisconsin Alumni Association to celebrate its 150th anniversary.

“The new pier is a gift to the whole campus community, and generations of alumni to come will make their Badger memories here,” said WAA President and CEO Paula Bonner MS’78. Judging by the high number of sunbathers, boaters, and passers-by who gravitated toward the structure before it even officially opened, those memories are already multiplying.

The pier is named for the family of Mike Shannon ’80 and Mary Sue Goodspeed Shannon ’81, whose gift toward the boat dock expresses their special connection to this area of campus.

More than 250 alumni and friends joined the Shannons on a perfect day in June to celebrate the dedication of the pier at a lakeside ribbon-cutting event. Both then-interim Chancellor David Ward MS’62, PhD’63 and incoming Chancellor Rebecca Blank were on hand for the celebration.

“This pier will be a great addition to the always-memorable experience of enjoying this scenic lakeshore that we are so fortunate to have in the heart of our campus,” Blank said. “It’s one of the reasons people say Wisconsin has one of the most beautiful college cam-puses in the nation, and everything we do to enhance it adds to the UW’s unique charm.”

Unlike the old concrete pier, the new one provides docking access for boats, canoes, and kayaks. The new version — made from a special, sustainable wood — is also more environmentally sound, since it improves water flow along the lakefront, eliminating the buildup of smelly, stagnant water that characterized the old structure.

Docking rates for the pier are $3 per hour for boats and $1.50 per hour for paddlecraft, with proceeds supporting pier operations. Located outside the Below Alumni Center, the pier will be the lakeside entry to the future Alumni Park when it opens in 2015. The park in turn will be a vibrant promenade in the corridor that runs between the Red Gym and the Memorial Union, from Lake Mendota to Langdon Street, and will celebrate the contributions of alumni and the university to the world. More than five hundred supporters, to date, have provided nearly $7 million toward the completion of Alumni Park, giving the campaign momentum and bumping it past the halfway mark towards its goal.

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Published in the Fall 2013 issue


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