Photo of Todd Johnson at student scholarship announcement

Todd Johnson

In a ceremony today, University of Wisconsin-Platteville Chancellor Dennis J. Shields announced a monumental gift of $10 million from Todd and Susan Johnson – the largest gift to support the university in history. This transformational gift will establish the Capstan Scholarship Program, which will allow selected students to graduate debt free, providing scholarships covering full tuition, room, and board to students every year, beginning this fall.

“From all of us here at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, I thank Todd and Susan Johnson for their monumental investment in our institution and the future of our students,” said Chancellor Dennis J. Shields at today’s ceremony. “Investing in the future of our students and university is one way that we can work together towards realizing a better tomorrow.”

The Capstan Scholarship Program will provide scholarships to deserving students each year, continuing in perpetuity. The scholarships are renewable for four years, allowing the Capstan Scholars program to grow every year. Eligible students must have a willingness to work hard, overcome obstacles, showcase gumption, demonstrate moral character and have financial need. The scholarships will be provided to students majoring in STEM-related fields or accounting and finance, from the midwestern states of Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota or Michigan.

In making their gift, it was important to the Johnsons to provide comprehensive scholarships to students, allowing them to graduate debt free. Doing so, they hope, will set the graduates on a different trajectory from many of their peers, putting them in a position where they can then donate their time, talent and resources to others in their future communities.

“As a student and the student body president at UW-Platteville, it is incredibly exciting to see such an amazing and historical gift from one of our donors,” said Kurstin Frey, a senior studying business administration and political science. “It truly speaks to the commitment to the success of our students and our university. The expense of college is often a primary reason for students not being able to attend or continue their education. Knowing that our UW-Platteville partners understand and prioritize this is nothing short of amazing and truly encouraging for our past, current and future Pioneers. I am so proud of, and grateful for, the community we have built at this institution and am continuously reminded of that when I see such inspiring contributions gifted directly to our students.”

“Just as I was surrounded by people that helped me succeed, the Capstan Scholarship was created for just that purpose – to remove obstacles, lift financial burden and provide a support system of other Capstan Scholars throughout their college career,” said Todd. “Every Capstan Scholar should know that they have a team around them that wants nothing more than to champion them toward success. A greater outcome can be achieved when people work together in support of one another. Just as the capstan provides a mechanism to achieve greater results than a single individual, so does the Capstan Scholarship.”

A key component of the scholarship program is the ability for the students to engage and form a network of support with each other. Opportunities will be built into the program for Capstan Scholars to attend annual events and engage with the Johnson family.

“Capstan Scholars will know they are cared about,” said Todd. “Our family wants the recipients of this scholarship to receive a unique, debt free education that prepares them for a successful career.

Todd attended UW-Platteville from 1976-81 and graduated with a degree in engineering and management. He is the chairman and CEO of Capstan Corporation. Todd was recognized as a 2021 Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni award winner. Todd and Susan are strong advocates of UW-Platteville, generous supporters of the UW-Platteville Foundation and members of the 1866 Cornerstone Society.

“Todd and Susan’s generosity is inspiring,” said Joshua Boots, assistant vice chancellor of Development and Alumni Engagement at UW-Platteville. “The scholarship program they have developed will change lives and become one of the most prestigious, celebrated scholarship programs around. Words cannot describe how much I appreciate and admire Todd and Susan.”


Todd and Susan would like to express their appreciation to UW-Platteville Foundation’s Office. They had a wonderful experience working to develop a customized plan that fulfilled their philanthropic goals. The Johnsons are grateful for the Foundation Office and their work to improve the lives of current and future students.  

Last year: The UW-Platteville Foundation provided over 900 scholarships, awarding over $1,000,000 to students. To learn more about establishing a scholarship at the UW-Platteville Foundation, please contact Stacia Stephenson, Director of Major Gifts. Cell: 608.732.0629 or

Written by Alison Parkins

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