MILWAUKEE (AP) — Paying for new academic buildings often requires universities to engage in creative financing, and sometimes to conduct ambitious fundraising from special interests that could benefit from the research produced there.
Fortunately for the University of Wisconsin, the state has a vested interest in cheese and sausages.
A dairy plant addition and a new meat science laboratory are on the drawing board for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Half the money to build them is being raised privately by the dairy and the meat industries, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Sunday (http://bit.ly/TfcT30 ).
The $32 million Babcock Hall Dairy Plant renovation and the $42.8 million Meat Science & Muscle Biology Laboratory received preliminary approval from the UW Board of Regents last week. The Legislature and the governor would need to sign off on the projects, too, before they could move forward in the 2013 state budget cycle.
"These two projects are linked to vibrant state industries," said Heidi Zoerb, a spokeswoman for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Naming rights are available for both projects. A $10 million gift will attach a donor's name to the Meat Science & Muscle Biology Laboratory. But donors who want their name on the Babcock Hall project will have to settle for a cheese vat or an ice cream freezer. Both naming rights have a suggested gift of $250,000 to $499,999.
Babcock Hall will always be called Babcock Hall to honor the late professor Stephen M. Babcock, often referred to as the Edison of the dairy industry. He developed a milk fat test in 1890 to quickly and easily measure the quality of milk for butter- and cheese-making so farmers could get a higher price for better milk.
The dairy industry already has raised $12 million of its $16 million share of the $32 million Babcock Hall project, which would renovate and expand a 60-year-old dairy plant that is best known among students for its award-winning gourmet ice cream.
It also houses the internationally known Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, which trains cheese-makers and serves as "doctor on call" to help develop new dairy products, including award-winning cheeses. The center supports Wisconsin's $27 billion-a-year dairy industry, which employs 146,000 and is rapidly expanding to international markets.
Money for the Babcock Hall renovation has come from all over the country, said Deb Wendorf Boyke, communications coordinator for the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research. The industry's fundraising campaign is headed by Lou Gentine, CEO of Plymouth-based Sargento Foods Inc., and Dave Fuhrmann, president of Baraboo-based Foremost Farms USA.
The campaign for the Meat Science & Muscle Biology Laboratory is headed by Kevin Ladwig, vice president of Johnsonville, a sausage company based in Sheboygan Falls.
So far, $7.3 million of the $20 million private fundraising goal has been met to help pay for the new $42.8 million lab, Zoerb said.
"We have an enormous number of meat processing plants in Wisconsin — over 400," Zoerb said.
Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com