Ab and Nancy Nicholas Donate $50 Million to UW-Madison

Bascon Hall, UW-Madison

UW-Madison’s business school is set to receive a large donation from the Nicholas family. Image: Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com

Businessman Albert “Ab” Nicholas and his wife Nancy Nicholas have donated $50 million to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for student scholarships. The $50 million donation is the largest student-aimed gift from individual donors in the school’s history.

“By a wide margin [it’s] the largest scholarship ever—and there’s not a close second,” said UW Foundation President and CEO Michael Knetter. “This means a lot for our ability to attract the best students, and it means a lot to students and their families who will be able to attend college with a little more financial support.”

Mr. Nicholas has previously donated money to UW-Madison, specifically supporting the Schools of Business and Human Ecology. The school of business has produced many successful alumni, including John Oros of J.C. Flowers & Co. and Dave Lesar of Halliburton. The school hopes to match the $50 million donation with the help of other donors to create a $100 million endowment that will support roughly 400 new scholarships, according to Knetter.

Ab Nicholas has very close ties to the University of Wisconsin. He attended UW-Madison as an undergraduate student studying economics on an athletic scholarship. Nicholas played basketball and actually graduated as the highest-scoring guard in school history at the time.

“The University of Wisconsin holds a special place for Nancy and me,” Ab Nicholas said in the release. “It’s where we met and where our three children and six of our grandchildren have gone to university….We are blessed to join with other donors to help deserving students and families have their own Wisconsin experience.”

Nancy Nicholas also has close ties to the school. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1955, and Nancy Nicholas Hall, which opened in 2012, was the first exclusively academic facility on campus to be named in honor of a woman. She and her husband have been strong supporters of the institution for decades.

The Nicholases also established the Ab Nicholas Scholarship Foundation in 2013, dedicated to providing scholarships to Wisconsin high school basketballers who go on to attend university at any UW System school—providing better opportunities for students in the situation that Nicholas once was.

It goes without saying, really, that the Nicholases and their generous support have created an impressive number of opportunities for students attending UW-Madison.

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