Laying a New Foundation

Longtime fund-raising leader retires; business dean will transition to new role.

Andrew “Sandy” Wilcox is recognized by his peers as the dean of public university foundation leaders for his success in building an endowment and for forming lasting ties with donors.

Under his leadership, the UW Foundation has provided the university with more than $2 billion in financial support, while its assets under management grew from $190 million to $2.5 billion and gifts totaled $3 billion.

Chancellor Biddy Martin PhD’85 calls Wilcox’s contributions as president of the foundation “nothing short of extraordinary.”

Now Wilcox is preparing to retire from the foundation, a private, nonprofit corporation.

“We have seen public-private partnerships change the university for the better, and we have connected our alumni and friends with ways to support their passions on campus,” Wilcox says.

Wilcox will serve as the foundation’s president emeritus beginning October 16 and will assist with the transition to his recently named successor, Michael Knetter, dean of the Wisconsin School of Business.

Frances “Fran” Taylor ’68, chair of the foundation board, says Knetter’s background as an economist advising Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and his involvement on both corporate and investment boards, were skills and experience the board was seeking in the foundation’s next leader.

Knetter orchestrated the novel $85 million Wisconsin Naming Gift, which preserved the school’s identity rather than adopting the name of one donor.

He continued to lead the business school after Martin appointed him the UW’s vice chancellor for advancement in March. In that role, he has worked with campus leaders to develop and communicate strategies to increase financial support for the university outside of the state budget.

As business school dean, Knetter spearheaded the expansion of Grainger Hall, the restructuring and improved national standing of the full-time MBA program, and the restructuring and expansion of the MBA programs for working professionals.

“The richness of Mike’s background makes him uniquely qualified for this important position,” says Taylor.

The business school is conducting an international search for Knetter’s successor. Joan Schmit ’78, MBA’79, the school’s vice dean and professor of risk management and insurance, will serve as interim dean.

“While I have enjoyed many aspects of my work at Wisconsin, nothing has given me greater satisfaction than engaging alumni in support of our mission,” Knetter says.

Published in the Fall 2010 issue

Tags: Alumni, UW Foundation

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