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Founders’ Day Season: A Growing Alumni Tradition

The Founders’ Day tradition is evolving and growing.

Did you celebrate Founder's Day this year?

Founders’ Day season is an important time for the university. Running February 5 — the official Founders’ Day — through mid June, Founders’ Day season is a time when the UW travels to the far flung corners of America to celebrate the university’s academic excellence and deliver a dose of Badger pride to its alumni.

Thanks to thousands of committed alumni and volunteers across the country, the number of alumni at Founder's Day events increased 33 percent this year. This year’s Founders’ Day season was enormously successful, with more than 50 WAA chapters holding Founders’ Day celebrations and thousands of alumni attending. WAA staff members, who attended dozens of the celebrations around the country, reported that the speakers and presentations were upbeat, enthusiastic, and informative. Around 3,000 alumni attended events across the country, and 46 of the 51 chapters participating increased their attendance from last year.

Short of taking a flight back to Madison to sit down in a lecture hall, there’s nothing quite like a Founders’ Day celebration. Every celebration features a faculty speaker.  This year, WAA worked with chapters to find ways to feature the chapters’ own alumni in the program. Topics included everything from the economy and renewable energy to comedy and turf grass. The result has been celebrations that illustrate that the Wisconsin Idea is alive and well in cities across the nation.

In addition to revamping the event programming, WAA changed how it promotes Founders’ Day celebrations. This year, WAA combined sending out print and email invitations with a social media campaign for each event. Facebook allowed WAA to pinpoint alumni in key markets and deliver a tailored message to them.

Since 1924, WAA has spearheaded the UW’s Founders’ Day celebrations. These celebrations have become an integral part of UW alumni traditions. Next Founders’ Day season, look for new marketing initiatives and program changes that will allow this 90-year-old tradition to continue to thrive.

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