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Michael Shannon ’80

Michael Shannon ’80, founder of KSL Capital Partners, a private equity firm that invests in the hospitality and real estate industries, has helped to fund the Goodspeed Family Pier and the Wisconsin Union Theater’s Shannon Hall.

Michael Shannon ’80 is the chairman and founder of KSL Capital Partners. He founded KSL in 2004 and founded its predecessor, KSL Recreation Corporation, in 1992, serving as its president and CEO. Prior to that, he was president and CEO of Vail Associates (the owner of Vail and Beaver Creek Resorts) in Vail, Colorado, from 1986 to 1992.

He has given generously to UW-Madison, serving on the UW Foundation Board of Directors and the Wisconsin School of Business Dean’s Advisory Board. He and his wife, Mary Sue Goodspeed Shannon ’81, have also provided financial support to the Wisconsin School of Business, the Lakefront Gateway Project, and the School of Human Ecology. The popular Goodspeed Family Pier on the campus lakefront is named in honor of Mary Sue’s family.

Shannon credits his UW-Madison experiences with laying the groundwork for his successful career. Running the Theta Chi Ski for Cancer fundraiser at Cascade Mountain during his senior year, he says, helped him to acquire the mix of hospitality and community-relations skills required to develop and run destination resorts such as Vail. In addition to his business school classes, he had a job assisting local restaurants with their operating plans to enable them to repay their SBA loans. This experience was “invaluable” when he later used similar budgeting techniques and guest-service training programs when implementing expansion at several KSL resorts.

Shannon has also served on several corporate boards, and he currently serves on the Northwestern University Board of Trustees, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association Foundation Board of Trustees, and the Vail Valley Foundation.

He is a recipient of the 2010 Wisconsin School of Business Distinguished Business Alumni Award and the 2012 Schaffner Award from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, from which he received a master’s degree.

Shannon’s loyalty has been a family tradition for decades. “Our family has been blessed and strengthened with nearly a century of fond Badger memories,” he says. “How can we say ‘thank you’ enough to a school that saw our family safely through two World Wars, introduced us to the loves of our lives and our best friends, gave us the intellectual foundation for our careers, and has allowed us to enjoy a family tradition that has and will continue on for generations?”

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