The University Club to dissolve, reopen under Wisconsin Union management

Cecilia Nysing

The University Club has been a fixture on Library Mall since 1907. Photo: Jeff Miller

The University Club closed in March 2020 to comply with COVID-19 pandemic related public health restrictions and to protect the health of customers, staff, and members of campus and local communities. Due to loss of business, the club entered a state of financial exigency. The club’s restaurant license expired at the end of 2020.

Throughout the pandemic, the University Club Board of Directors has worked closely with university administration, exploring options to preserve and re-open the club. At an annual meeting on June 16, the board and membership voted to dissolve the club as an incorporated 501(c)(7) social organization and move to integrate the club fully into UW–Madison. The board has approved a proposal from the Wisconsin Union to assume management of the dining, meeting, and event services in the facility with plans to re-open in Fall 2021. The board is simultaneously partnering with the university to complete an advanced planning study of the club, which will include a facility condition assessment, dining services market analysis, and recommendations for a long-term business model for the club.

Lindsey Stoddard Cameron, president of the University Club Board, said the entire board is delighted that the club will remain a vibrant part of the UW–Madison campus community, open to all.

“We have worked diligently with university partners to explore best options for continuing traditions of the club. We’re thrilled that the Wisconsin Union has stepped forward to operate the club and are enormously grateful that UW–Madison has continued the advanced planning study launched in March 2020, which will provide an excellent foundation for long term plans.”

The University Club, founded in 1907, has long operated as a 501(c)(7) social organization and affiliate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The university owns the building, located at 803 State Street, and the furnishings and equipment inside. The building is part of the Bascom Hill Historic District and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Parts of the building house academic units of the university. Operations of those units will be unchanged under the new operating agreement with the Wisconsin Union.

Details of the Union plans to operate the club will be announced in the summer.

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