Their friendship has spanned decades: growing up in the same Milwaukee neighborhood, as roommates at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and throughout careers at the highest levels of national leadership. And now, two University of Wisconsin-Madison graduates are receiving the highest alumni honors.
Former U.S. Senator Herbert “Herb” Kohl '56, and Allan “Bud” Selig '56, commissioner of Major League Baseball, have both been selected to receive the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award, presented by the Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA).
“Wisconsin alumni everywhere can be proud of the great success and national contributions that Senator Kohl and Commissioner Selig have both achieved in their remarkable careers,” said Paula Bonner MS'78, president of the Wisconsin Alumni Association.
Since 1936, the association has presented the Distinguished Alumni Award to outstanding UW-Madison graduates whose professional achievements, contributions to society, and support of the university exemplify the Wisconsin Idea.
“These most distinguished alumni share a fascinating history of Wisconsin experience, as well as legacies of commitment to supporting education and opportunity for young scholars,” Bonner said. “Senator Kohl and Commissioner Selig not only understand the power of a University of Wisconsin education, but they also inspire us all to think about our lifelong connections to this great state and university.”
Kohl earned his bachelor’s degree in American institutions from UW-Madison in 1956. He retired in 2011, following 23 years of national service as a U.S. senator. He was a longtime owner of the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association, and he provided the lead gift for the Kohl Center athletic facility at UW-Madison. The senator also founded the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation, which provides annual grants totaling $400,000 to 200 graduating high school seniors, 100 Wisconsin teachers, and 100 schools throughout Wisconsin.
Selig earned his bachelor’s degrees in history and political science from UW-Madison in 1956. Following his retirement as the commissioner of Major League Baseball in January 2015, Selig expects to spend additional time on campus, where he guest-lectures, connects with students, and maintains an office in the Department of History. In 2010, he established the Allan H. Selig Chair in History, and he supports the Selig Distinguished Lecture in Sport and Society. Three Major League Baseball owners and the foundation of Hall of Famer Hank Aaron have also created scholarships at UW-Madison in honor of Selig and his wife, Suzanne.
Both Selig and Kohl will be honored personally through alumni and university programs in the coming months. More information about the Distinguished Alumni Award, including a list of past recipients, is at uwalumni.com/awards.