Laying the Foundation for Faculty Excellence

In 2015, UW–Madison launched the All Ways Forward comprehensive fundraising campaign to move the university and its mission forward.

As the campaign concludes this December, it has collectively inspired a sweeping surge of generosity and hope as people use their power of giving to create the future they want to see. This includes at the UW School of Veterinary Medicine, where to date the school has raised more than $135 million in the All Ways Forward campaign.

Funds raised through this campaign have supported the school’s building expansion and allowed for investments in our faculty, research, and substantial new commitments to scholarship support for students. Critically, the school’s campaign success includes $78.5 million in future estate gifts that have been documented, ensuring long-term investments in the school. Below is one such example of this generous support.

Professor Emeritus Gerald Bisgard clearly recalls the early days of working alongside Dean Bernard Easterday and colleagues during the founding of the UW School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) over 30 years ago.

Bisgard was chosen to be the first chair of the school’s Department of Comparative Biosciences. “We had a five-person executive committee, made up of senior faculty from both inside and outside the SVM, to recruit new faculty and build the administrative backbone for the department,” he recalls. “I felt honored and lucky to be in such excellent company.”

Archival photo of Gerald Bisgard
An archival photo of Gerald Bisgard.

Looking back at his days of service to the school and university, Gerald (better known as Jerry), is particularly proud of how the department supported and advised young faculty. As chair, Bisgard made mentoring by tenured faculty a priority.

“New faculty were assigned to an advisory committee consisting of two faculty members and myself,” he explains. “We’d meet with them regularly to see how they were doing, read their proposals, and give advice. Training young faculty and getting them off to a good start is critical. Our department was, and still is, lauded for this.”

“Solid research is the foundation that allows us to move forward with new and novel approaches for treating and preventing animal diseases. It’s our hope that having startup money to accumulate data — and maybe even publish a paper — will be instrumental in helping faculty.”

Inspired by the department’s current breadth and depth of faculty and a desire to continue the tradition of fostering the scientists of today and tomorrow, Jerry and his wife Shary shared a legacy estate gift to establish the Bisgard Veterinary Medical Research Fund.

“Solid research is the foundation that allows us to move forward with new and novel approaches for treating and preventing animal diseases,” Bisgard notes. “It’s our hope that having startup money to accumulate data — and maybe even publish a paper — will be instrumental in helping faculty when they go for competitive extramural funding and grants.”

The fund will specifically support research conducted by Department of Comparative Biosciences faculty members. Scientists in the department currently study cancer, metabolism, neuroscience, reproduction, and many other avenues of biomedical research with implications for advancing animal and human health.

“The School of Veterinary Medicine has been an integral and wonderful part of our lives. We are grateful that we can play a role in supporting the current faculty by establishing this research fund,” adds Shary. “And we’d encourage others to do the same. It is a very gratifying way to stay connected with the school. We’re proud to see the caliber of research being done today and want to see it continue.”

Denise Garlow

This article appears in the winter 2021-22 issue of On Call magazine.

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