Governor, chancellor to break ground on new home for UW’s newest school

Northeast Entry at University Ave & Charter St in Daylight

The University of Wisconsin–Madison will break ground Tuesday on a home for a group of academic programs and research vital to the future of Wisconsin’s economy and in hot demand among students.

A nearly 350,000-square-foot building for the School of Computer, Data & Information Sciences will rise in the heart of campus after key figures in the school and building’s creation — including Gov. Tony Evers, generous benefactors Tashia and John Morgridge and leaders from the UW System and UW–Madison — turn the first ceremonial shovels of earth during an event on the construction site, 1240 W. Johnson St.

Formed in 2019 to further augment teaching and innovation in a group of future-focused disciplines with strong ties to a broad range of other fields across campus, CDIS brings together the Computer Sciences and Statistics departments and the Information School. Computers, data and information are everywhere, all at once, according to Tom Erickson, founding director of CDIS and a veteran tech entrepreneur, and UW–Madison is taking a lead role in helping its students, Wisconsin businesses and the world leverage their power.

“Society uses data and technology across every facet of industry and in our personal lives — from medicine to engineering to agriculture. Students and faculty in virtually every discipline require digital skills — establishing new table stakes in higher ed,” Erickson says. “CDIS helps our students pair the power of digital sciences with the almost unmatched breadth of highly regarded education and research programs at UW–Madison.”

CDIS now includes campus’s fastest-growing major (data science), largest major (computer sciences) and newest major (information science). To support a rapidly growing student body, the school’s new seven-story building will include flexible classroom space with as many as 1,100 seats and a learning center to help all students — especially those just beginning to develop their computing and data skills — succeed in introductory CDIS courses.

The building will put a common roof over CDIS’ founding units, as well provide a new home for other tightly related campus partners, including the UW School of Medicine and Public Health’s Department of Biostatistics & Medical Informatics, the American Family Insurance Data Science Institute, the N+1 Institute and the Center for High Throughput Computing, creating a dynamic hub that will strengthen cross-disciplinary connections and drive innovative research.

“The school will enhance our ability to tackle the big challenges in data-rich sciences such as climate science, physics, and astronomy,” says Eric Wilcots, professor of astronomy and dean of the College of Letters & Science, administrative home to CDIS. “The transformative power of CDIS is in the intersection of computing and data with the humanities and social sciences. This is how UW–Madison distinguishes itself amongst our peers.”

Expected to be completed in 2025, the new CDIS building is the latest crest in a wave of expansion and renewal enhancing the campus landscape to meet the needs of current and future Badgers. The facility is designed to be the most sustainable on campus, with more than one-quarter of the site covered with planted areas including a courtyard, terraces and green roofs. Irrigation and restroom flush fixtures will incorporate collected stormwater, and the building plans to reduce water use 35% beyond federal standards. Its rooftop will be equipped with high-efficiency solar panels and a solar trellis.

The $260 million building project is funded entirely through private donations and was announced in 2021 with a commitment of $125 million from Tashia and John Morgridge and $50 million from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. Information on how to make a gift to the CDIS building project is available at

University of Wisconsin System President Jay Rothman, UW–Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin and Erik Iverson, CEO of WARF, will join the Morgridges, Wilcots, Erickson and representatives of CDIS faculty and the facilities planning and construction teams in celebrating the groundbreaking. Attendees will help create a community art piece to celebrate the milestone in the building and school’s growth.