by Jonathan Gramling
Dr. Maria Hernandez Bañuelos and Dr. Richard Harris, both Madison College employees, began to advocate for a Madison College presence in South Madison. It
was an uphill battle for them because it was my perception that the powers-that-be didn’t see the advantage of having a South Madison campus and probably wrote
it off as a waste of money as South Madison students were expected to travel to the downtown or far east side to get their two-year degrees or certificates.
But by sheer determination, Harris and Bañuelos succeeded in advocating for that presence. An addition was built onto the south end of the Madison Labor Temple
and classes were held there. And after the city of Madison started the process of revitalizing the Villager Mall, Madison College moved into its current space to
continue the South Madison presence. And if my memory serves me correctly, there was a lapse in presence for a year or two between the Labor Temple and
There has always been some uncertainty about the continuation of the South Madison presence over the years. Would it stay or would it leave, depending on the
year, one looked more likely than the other. It always seemed that again the powers-that-be had a presence in South Madison as much for political reasons as
educational ones. And while politics causes things to happen, it is the educational foundation that determines if it is going to work or not.
When Dr. Jack Daniels III came in as the Madison College presence, there was still that feeling of uncertainty. As he dived deep into the data and got a feel for the
environment that Madison College found itself in and the perennial state government cutbacks for public education, would Dr. Daniels continue the South Madison
presence or would he create a different configuration of campuses in the Madison area.
Well, he did create a different configuration, but fortunately it included the building of a $23 million South Madison campus at the corner of S. Park Street and Badger
Road, right in the heart of the traditional South Madison. After some 25 years, the anxiety was put to rest.
About 12-13 years ago, I was fortunate to be a part of the team that put together the Lussier Community Education Center’s Kresge Foundation grant to build its
present location on Gammon Road. The beautiful part of the process was that the Kresge people essentially challenged applicants to develop a circle of supporters
for the new center who would help sustain the center long after the walls had been built. It was a very demanding, but essential fundraising process.
The beautiful and yet difficult things that led to the building of the Overture Center was the $205 million gift to build Overture and the millions of dollars placed in an
endowment fund for the performing arts groups that would be housed there. Without the gifts from Jerome Frautschi and Pleasant Rowland, Overture would have
never been built. God bless them. But the gifts also meant that the development of a circle of support did not occur and so 10 years later, Overture was facing some
difficult financial decisions. And Overture found itself needing to create that circle of friends in the community to sustain Overture’s operations.
The new Madison College South campus has been made possible through two major gifts from the Goodman Foundation and the Great Lakes Higher Education Corp
and smaller gifts from American Family Insurance, CUNA Mutual and the Rennebohm Foundation. Madison College has raised the vast majority of the amount that it
needs to go ahead with the full 75,000 sq. ft. facility.
But the Madison College South campus needs a circle of friends to seal the deal so that all of the money is raised and to maintain support for the campus well into
the future. The South Madison community and Madison’s communities of color must step up and be a major part of that circle of friends by making donations for the
new campus. We want this to be a COMMUNITY campus and for the COMMUNITY to have some skin in the game, some financial skin. Like at Overture, the
Goodman, Great Lakes and other donations have made the South Madison campus possible. God bless them. But it is going to take the community to complete the
circle of friends who are going to utilize the campus and help sustain it.
Become a part of the solution in South Madison by making a financial contribution for the new campus. Make an investment in our children’s future. Make it today.
Laying the Foundation
It is going to be such an awful temptation today. Technically, it’s been spring since late March, but it has felt like winter
for most of April as we received several snowfalls. I read where farmers haven’t been able to plant their crops because
the ground has been so darn cold. I’ve had a lot of work to do and I haven’t minded it too much since the weather outside
wasn’t exactly inviting me to spend vast amounts of time outdoors.
But it sure is tempting on this last day of April with the temperature expected to hit the mid seventies and there is no rain
in the forecast. I would love to be out there in a short-sleeve shirt and sandals. It sure is tempting and it is doubly so as
an entrepreneur. On most days, while I have a full load and then some — I worked 12-hour days on Saturday and Sunday
— I still have control over how I spend my time. And perhaps I would steal some time to bask in the sun, but I have a 4 p.
m. press deadline and if I don’t meet it, The Hues won’t come out until Wednesday at the earliest.
And so, like most other people, I will enjoy the warm weather from behind some glass windows and day dream on
occasion on what it would be like to just sit there and soak the rays up. Welcome spring! And don’t quickly turn into the
heat of summer. Let us enjoy you for a while.
I can remember back in the 1980s when I was working for the Urban League when the first efforts to establish a string
Madison College presence in South Madison. In its earliest efforts to do outreach to the African American, Latino and
other communities of color, Madison College would hold GED and English classes at the Urban League and Centro
Hispano and various other community locations. I would say that these efforts were modestly successful, but didn’t
provide a centralized educational push for the education of communities of color residing in the South Madison area.