UW-Parkside announces $3 million gift supporting student success, new Student Success & Learning Commons

Published: October 14, 2021

SOMERS, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin-Parkside announced a $3 million gift from the Callahan family of Kenosha to fund a new scholarship program for UW-Parkside students.

The new program, the Callahan Scholars, will benefit students with financial need with an emphasis on supporting Kenosha County students and students of color. In addition to funding scholarships, the gift will provide success coaching and learning and engagement opportunities that support student success.

“On behalf of the university, the UW-Parkside Foundation, and most importantly, students, we are so grateful to the Callahans,” said Willie Jude II, Vice Chancellor for University Advancement. “Their significant commitment exemplifies our relationships with partners, centered on investing in students and in the future of our community. Additionally, this is the second largest private gift in university history, a milestone we are proud to celebrate.”

Patsy Callahan, Andy Callahan, and Crystal Callahan are active in community organizations including the Kenosha YMCA, Building our Future, Shalom Center, and ELCA Outreach Center, among others. Through the Mary Frost Ashley Charitable Trust, the Callahans have funded the growth of student initiatives at UW-Parkside over the past decade including scholarships for study abroad, paid internship programming, and the campus innovation commons. Their support has also developed a literacy learning resource collection housed in the UW-Parkside Library and accessible to UW-Parkside teacher education students, local K-12 educators, and community members.

“Our family’s partnership with UW-Parkside has always focused on helping students access opportunities that help them thrive,” said Andy Callahan. “We see this gift as a continuation of that partnership, and as part of our commitment to support the strengths and potential of young people in our community. The passion of leaders at UW-Parkside, including Chancellor Ford, for student success is inspirational.”

The gift announcement coincided with the grand opening of the Callahan Family Student Success & Learning Commons. This renovated campus space is part of the university’s $35.4 million state-funded Wyllie renewal project. The project also updates infrastructure in Wyllie Hall, which opened in 1972, and provides significant remodeling of the UW-Parkside Library with a planned completion date of fall 2022.

In the updated Callahan Family Student Success & Learning Commons, student service offices are co-located to simplify student access to academic advising, career support, tutoring, financial aid, community engagement, and multiple resources. The space includes locations for students to gather and learn together in meeting rooms and informal seating areas.

“Navigating the many services, offices, and acronyms across a college campus can be confusing and creates real difficulties for students as they work toward their degrees,” said Tammy McGuckin, Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services. “This new space is designed to be inviting and gives students a ‘go-to’ place for many of their needs.”

The creation of the Callahan Scholars and the redesign of the Callahan Family Student Success & Learning Commons continue UW-Parkside’s progress in strengthening student outcomes. UW-Parkside recently graduated its two largest classes in spring 2020 and spring 2021, keeping the university on track to achieve its key goal of increasing graduate numbers by 50 percent by 2025.

Provost Rob Ducoffe said, “The alignment of community support, improvements to our learning environment, and the many academic efforts underway through the university’s academic and student affairs plan give UW-Parkside great momentum to continue increasing the number of graduates, especially people of color.”

The university has also joined Moon Shot for Equity, a national initiative aimed at ending equity gaps in higher education in the region. As the first regional Moon Shot for Equity partnership, UW-Parkside joined Carthage College, Milwaukee Area Technical College, and UW-Milwaukee in committing to equity initiatives and actions that remove barriers to student success, with the ultimate goal of helping students of color, low-income students, and other historically underserved populations graduate from college.

“The Callahans’ vision and generosity, paired with the new Callahan Family Student Success and Learning Commons, is a game changer for UW-Parkside,” said UW-Parkside Chancellor Debbie Ford. “The investment at UW-Parkside and their leadership as community supporters of the university take us to the next level in growth and achievement for all students, which will have a lasting impact for graduates, the university, and the region.”

The University of Wisconsin-Parkside is committed to high-quality educational programs, creative and scholarly activities, and services responsive to its diverse student population, and its local, national, and global communities. We are a dynamic learning community grounded in academic excellence and focused on student success, diversity, inclusion, and community engagement.  The campus serves as a premier comprehensive public institution and a destination of choice, serving as a focal point of local, regional, and global progress. 

Media contact:

Andrew Savagian
Communications Director
University of Wisconsin-Parkside

Scroll to top