The Menard family, Wisconsin natives and owners of a Midwestern chain of home improvement stores, is donating $2.36 million to the Stout University Foundation to expand the Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation, interim Chancellor Patrick Guilfoile announced today, Wednesday, Dec. 11.
“I want to thank the Menard family for this very generous donation and for believing so strongly in the mission of this center,” Guilfoile said. “This support will allow the center to do even more to fulfill its mission, which is to promote the study and discussion of civil liberties and related institutions and innovations through scholarly inquiry, educational activities and community outreach.”
The center will be renamed the Menard Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation and will remain in its current location at 312 Bowman Hall.
“As part of its mission, the University of Wisconsin-Stout is committed to providing an education that will help tomorrow’s leaders solve real world problems,” said the Menard family. “Free speech and freedom of expression are critical to the innovation and advances that have improved our lives. This center is integral to fulfilling the school’s mission, and we are excited to support it.”
A statement from the Menard family to the UW-Stout campus is available at the CSII website, under Menard Family Gift to CSII.
The center, directed by Professor Tim Shiell, was established in 2017 with a donation from the Charles Koch Foundation.
Since its inception, the intent of the center has been “to facilitate civil and rational debate and research in the state and beyond on important civil liberty issues, such as guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution: freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and petitioning the government, and how these liberties relate to institutions and innovation in government, civic, business, social, scientific and religious settings. The center will provide programming on campus and across the state, including speakers, panels and workshops.”
“This donation will enable the center to double its support for events and activities at UW-Stout and across the state benefiting thousands of students, faculty, staff and community members, ” Shiell said. “I want to thank the Menard family and the Stout University Foundation for their work in putting this agreement together.”
The center is the hub for a statewide network of more than 20 universities and colleges funding speakers, panels and debates; conferences and symposiums; faculty and student research; student internships; workshops and reading groups, and much more.
In its first two years, the center sponsored more than 50 events and activities at UW-Stout and more than 200 events and activities across the state, reaching more than 15,000 campus and community members.
As with the original Charles Koch Foundation agreement, this agreement with the Menard family contains provisions to ensure complete control and academic freedom on the part of the university in the operation of the center and its programming.
More information about the center is available at the center website.
The UW-Stout Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation in Bowman Hall will be renamed the Menard Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation.