$85 Million Will Buy You Nothing at the University of Wisconsin
Michael Knetter may just go down in history as one of the greatest fundraisers of all time. Knetter is the dean of the Wisconsin Business School. Other universities have managed to raise substantial amounts of money by naming their business schools after generous donors (think Carlson, Tuck, Goizueta, Sloan, etc.). But Knetter did something far more impressive. He managed to raise $85 million in return for promising not to name the school for the next 20 years. A bunch of boosters liked the fact that the school is simply called the “University of Wisconsin Business School,” and they were willing to pay to keep it that way, at least for 20 years.
As one of my colleagues pointed out, it probably would have been a lot cheaper for the boosters just to bribe the Wisconsin legislature to pass a bill preventing the naming of the business school, although that strategy would not have gotten them many positive headlines.
Apparently, Knetter is now offering a full slate of objects not to name at the business school. For $50,000, you can have a classroom not named after you. For $5,000, you can not have your name on a plaque in the entryway to the building. For those of you with a little less to give, $50 will guarantee that the urinal of your choice will go unnamed. But only for the next 20 years.