Gift of $5 million establishes two faculty chairs at School of Nursing

April 16, 2013

by Phil Davis

The School of Nursing has received a gift of $5 million from John and Tashia Morgridge in honor of Mary and Carl Gulbrandsen, establishing two permanently endowed faculty chairs — one in pediatric nursing and one in health systems innovation.

Photo: the Gulbrandsens and Morgridges

From left, Carl and Mary Gulbrandsen, Tashia and John Morgridge.

John and Tashia Morgridge are well known for their support of UW-Madison, including the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, the Morgridge Center for Public Service, the School of Education and the Wisconsin School of Business.

In a statement about the gift, the Morgridges said, "We are pleased to honor our good friends Mary and Carl for their dedication to education, research and the wellbeing of the people of Wisconsin."

Mary Gulbrandsen, an alumna of the School of Nursing, has worked tirelessly in her efforts to secure funding for Signe Skott Cooper Hall. She serves as executive director of the Fund for Wisconsin Scholars, a private foundation established by the Morgridges to provide need-based grants to high school students attending Wisconsin public colleges.

Carl Gulbrandsen is managing director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). He and John Morgridge, a member of the WARF Board of Trustees, worked closely together in developing the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.

"The gift for these two endowed faculty chairs is unprecedented for the School of Nursing and a real game changer for us," says School of Nursing Dean Katharyn May. "These chairs will allow us to recruit stellar faculty to match the outstanding new, state-of-the-art facility that we'll be moving into in 2014. They will help solidify our position as one of the top research-intensive nursing schools in the country.

"The school has a storied history in the field of pediatric nursing, which the pediatric chair will help us build upon, and the health systems innovation chair will help sharpen our focus on the future of health systems — particularly appropriate for nursing as the nation enters a new era in health care delivery," May says.

“These chairs will allow us to recruit stellar faculty to match the outstanding new, state-of-the-art facility that we’ll be moving into in 2014.”

Katharyn May

The two faculty endowed chairs honor the distinguished careers of the Gulbrandsens.

Mary Gulbrandsen studied under Florence Blake, a pioneering clinician and teacher in pediatric nursing, while at the School of Nursing. She joined the Madison Metropolitan School District more than 30 years ago to implement and manage the program that placed health services staff in all Madison public schools. She went on to serve in a variety of leadership roles in the school district, including chief of staff, where she worked on long-range planning, finance and operations, and programs designed to improve student achievement. She retired in June 2007 as chief of staff and executive director of student services for the district.

Carl Gulbrandsen practiced law, specializing in patent prosecution and litigation until 1992, when he became general counsel of Lunar Corporation and Bone Care International, Inc. Both companies were located in Madison and sold products based on technology arising from research conducted at the university. He has been with WARF since 1997. Prior to becoming its managing director in 2000, he was WARF's director of patents and licensing. He was an adjunct professor in the Department of Physiology and was on the faculty of the Masters of Biotechnology program, which resided in the Department of Physiology. He also taught patent law in the Law School.

John Morgridge joined Cisco Systems in 1988 as president and CEO. During his tenure, the company grew from $5 million in sales to more than $1 billion. Tashia Morgridge is a retired special education teacher and works as a volunteer teacher for the learning disabled. The couple met in high school and attended UW-Madison together, graduating in the spring of 1955 and marrying the following August.