Trustee Stories: George Cutlip
Wisconsin Union Association Trustee George Cutlip, in many ways, grew up at the Wisconsin Union’s Memorial Union. It’s a place his parents would take him to have many meals, to see academic life in action and to have many other experiences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.
The Cutlip family had more than social and educational ties to the Union and campus; his parents also worked at UW-Madison. George’s father Scott taught in the UW-Madison School of Journalism (now called the School of Journalism and Mass Communication) and served as a faculty advisor. His mother Erna was an administrative assistant in the Departments of Political Science and Economics. His father believed strongly in not only the importance of education but also in the role the Wisconsin Union plays in the lives of all who attend UW-Madison.
The Wisconsin Union’s history of providing educational experiences began more than 110 years ago and, today, includes programs that range from sailing to live concerts and to how to appreciate a concert. Since its founding, the Union has enhanced the lives of all of the Union’s members and guests and has become known as not only the heart and soul of campus but also its living room.
When it came time for George to decide where to attend college, he chose the place that had served as his campus living room and already felt like home: the University of Wisconsin. He admits he couldn’t imagine rooting for any other team than the Badgers.
It was at the campus he called home that he earned a bachelor’s degree in communication arts with a concentration in radio, television and film. While attending college, the Union remained a constant companion for George but also became something new to him; the Memorial Union became his “island in the storm” of social, political and academic upheaval of the 1960s. Peaceful days on the Terrace were to come later.
His career in public relations took him across the country to New York City after graduation. But George’s academic pursuits inevitably returned to him to his first university home and the Memorial Union.
Today, George is a lifelong lifetime member of the Union and serves in several Union leadership positions, including the role of Wisconsin Union Association trustee.
The Association is a non-profit corporation whose trustees are committed to being stewards of the Union’s heritage and ideals. They do this while encouraging positive change, innovation, growth and financial support. The Association’s trustees represent the interests of more than 90,000 Wisconsin Union lifetime members.
“Sometimes, it seems like the places and things we love can never go away. But institutions are fragile,” George said. “We have to do our part to preserve this remarkable organization and help it fulfill its mission as the Division of Social Education of the university.”
In addition to his role of trustee, George serves on the Association’s Development Committee, where he supports long-range and short-term fundraising initiatives, and on the Executive Committee.
In addition to his Association roles, George currently is a member of Union Council, the Wisconsin Union’s governing body. In all these roles, he says he aims to dedicate his experiences, including those as an alumnus, and his institutional perspective to the Union and those that the Union serves.
“The Wisconsin Union serves the entire university and anyone who participates in its programs,” George said. “I think anyone who visits the Union’s buildings or gets involved in the Union comes away with an enriched life. It’s just the nature of what we, at the Union, do.”
When George Cutlip is not serving in leadership roles at the Union or making a difference with other area organizations, you’re likely to find him enjoying a cup of coffee somewhere in any one of the Union’s enriching spaces. If you see George, ask him how great the Union is; he’ll tell ‘ya. George recommends you pack a lunch if you do ask.
To learn more about the Wisconsin Union Association and the Association’s trustees, visit union.wisc.edu/wisconsin-union-association.