20.12.07

IT IS DIFFICULT TO AGREE WITH THIS. I have sometimes suggested that the quality of life was better in the days when robber barons would conspire in smoke-filled rooms and divide markets to earn monopoly rents that would endow museums and libraries. Those robber barons were at least up front about their philanthropy. Duke University. Carnegie Hall. The Decatur Staleys. Rockefeller Center. The Field Museum. Wrigley Field. Several Kellogg Schools. Heck, Ball State University. (Somebody has to monopolize canning jars.) No more.

The Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has received an unprecedented gift totaling $85 million from a small group of alumni who have formed the “Wisconsin Naming Partnership” to support the school’s mission.

This innovative partnership provides a naming gift that will preserve the Wisconsin name for at least 20 years. During that time, the school will not be named for a single donor or entity. This unprecedented naming partnership will uphold tradition and greatly enhance the value of the school to students, the campus and the state.

The Wisconsin naming gift is the first of its kind received by a U.S. business school. Conventional business school naming gifts adopt the name of a single donor in perpetuity. By preserving the Wisconsin name for 20 years, this gift leaves open the option of future naming gifts.

UW-Madison Chancellor John D. Wiley calls the gift “a creative act of philanthropy and a major milestone for our university.”

Mr Wiley, who will soon be taking his pension, did not identify the road along which that major milestone lies. That tradition of perpetuity, for the record, is negotiable. Ask the next Dyche family member you meet.

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