Welcome Back to Campus

One Alumni Place reconnects visitors with the UW.

A group of people wearing winter coats and hats sits on furniture and the floor inside One Alumni Place

Families warm up in a cozy One Alumni Place in February 2020. They attended a WAA Family Fun Day in conjunction with the Wisconsin Union Winter Carnival. Bryan Huynh

Since it opened in 2017, One Alumni Place has become a popular spot in the heart of campus — a place where visitors can relax, grab a cup of coffee, browse yearbooks and other publications in the library, or attend an event.

Located at the end of Lake Street in what was formerly part of the Below Alumni Center, “it’s a unique, intimate, spirited space to reconnect with campus and other alums,” says Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) executive director Sarah Schutt. “A lot of people drop by — especially those coming back to campus for the first time in a long while.”

In the summer, most people visit on Fridays for Badger Meet-ups, which might include yard games in the adjacent Alumni Park, a green space featuring outdoor exhibits that highlight notable UW alumni and ideas. “It’s a nice time to connect with other Badgers, and some people have made new friends while stopping by,” says McKenzie Zdrale ’00, MA’23, managing director for engagement programs.

WAA members can take complimentary pontoon boat rides, which depart from the nearby Goodspeed Family Pier. And it’s hard to beat summer events on the rooftop deck, with spectacular views of Alumni Park, Lake Mendota, and of course, sunsets.

The fall season brings gatherings on Fridays before home football games. “The space really comes alive for the annual Homecoming block party,” says Zdrale. This past year, family-friendly activities included a photo booth, trivia contests, face painting, and art activities to complement outdoor festivities such as the pep rally and silent disco in Alumni Park.

One Alumni Place also hosts a wide variety of enrichment and learning programs, including the Wisconsin Idea Spotlight events. The series has featured speakers such as Brian Stack MA’88, a writer for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert; an event with former Badger football player Chris Borland ’13, who is now active with the Center for Healthy Minds and led attendees through a meditation; and a panel of prominent UW women who marked 150 years of female students on campus.

One Alumni Place is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., except during campus breaks and holidays. Feel free to drop in, sit by the fireplace, and find out what’s happening on campus.

Published in the Spring 2024 issue


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