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  5. An investment in the great people of our college

An investment in the great people of our college

On June 16 at approximately 11:45 a.m., I had the honor and privilege of making a very special announcement. In front of a crowd of nearly 350 engineering faculty, staff and students and members of the media, I revealed news of the largest gift commitment in UW-Madison College of Engineering history.

That $25 million commitment—from The Grainger Foundation of Lake Forest, Illinois—will create the Grainger Institute for Engineering. One of our goals is to establish the UW-Madison College of Engineering as a national leader in vital research areas. The Institute will be an incubator that allows us to choose and quickly develop new research directions in response to pressing technological and societal needs. 

Even more, however, the Institute is an investment in the people who generate the ideas and innovations for which our great university is known. 

The Grainger Foundation commitment will enable us to hire 25 new faculty members—and these individuals will be pioneers committed not only to collaborative, trans-disciplinary research, but to excellence in teaching, as well. Amplifying our many existing strengths in research and education, these new faculty will increase our ability to attract, retain and train top postdoctoral and graduate students, and to weave fresh ideas and cutting-edge technologies into our undergraduate curriculum.  

Along with our society, higher education is undergoing rapid changes—and we as a college aim to excel at educating and inspiring future leaders whose engineering education enables them to engage with others to make meaningful contributions to society. This is our challenge—and this is our opportunity. The Grainger Institute for Engineering allows us to advance an already thriving culture of collaborative, multidisciplinary research—and to integrate that approach into our teaching for the benefit of all.  

While I had the privilege to announce The Grainger Foundation's generous commitment and to tell those in attendance about the positive changes it will effect, many of my colleagues worked very hard to help make the gift, my announcement, and the following celebratory luncheon possible. They have my deepest gratitude.

I look back on the sheer number of people in the room on June 16—as well as those who listened from out in the hallway—and I saw passion for the College of Engineering. 

You—our faculty, staff and students—know we are a great college. I know you are committed to making the college even better. And I thank all of you for your ongoing support, dedication and hard work. Together, we will achieve our goals. 

Dean Ian Robertson
7/1/2014