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University of Wisconsin

For the University of Wisconsin system, see University of Wisconsin System.

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Seal of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

School type Public (Assisted)
Founded 1848
Location Madison, Wisconsin
Campus size 933 acre (3.8 km²)
Enrollment 29,000 undergraduate, 13,000 graduate and post-graduate.
Faculty 2,100
Campus surroundings Urban
Sports teams Badgers
Mascot Bucky Badger

The University of Wisconsin was founded in 1848 and is the largest university in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. The total Fall 2002 enrollment was 41,552 students, of whom 28,778 are undergraduates.

University of Wisconsin-Madison is the full official name. It is also called UW, UW-Madison, or Wisconsin for short.



The university is located in Madison just blocks from the state capitol building, on an isthmus between two lakes, Lake Mendota and Lake Monona. The main campus comprises 933 acres (3.8 km²) of land, while the entire campus, including research stations, is over 10,600 acres (43 km²) in area.

The campus has its own police force, food service, hospital, recreation facilities, power facilities, and an on-campus dairy.


The University of Wisconsin is divided into twenty associated colleges and schools. In addition to traditional undergraduate and graduate divisions in engineering, education, and letters, the university also maintains professional schools in law, medicine, veterinary medicine, and pharmacy.

In addition to being a highly-ranked school in education, history, and sociology, the university was recently ranked the 2nd best college at which to get an education degree, and the 7th best public school in the United States. In the Gourman report on undergraduate programs, the University of Wisconsin was ranked the third best public university, right after the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Additionally, it was ranked the eighth best university in the United States for overall strength in the undergraduate programs. It is the flagship campus of the University of Wisconsin System.

Wisconsin has been one of the leading public universities in the United States since the beginning of the 20th century and ranks as one of the great research universities of the world. In its strength in a wide variety of academic programs, the University of Wisconsin is rivalled by the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

Among U. S. universities, the University of Wisconsin is frequently listed as one of the "public Ivies"—publicly funded universities providing a quality of education comparable to the best private schools. It is often ranked among the top ten public universities in the United States.


Bascom Hall, 1968, with crosses placed by students protesting the Vietnam war, and sign saying


Sign near Sterling Hall commemorating tragic events of 1970


The university had its official beginnings when Wisconsin was incorporated as a state in 1848. Article X, Section B of the state constitution provided for "the establishment of a state university, at or near the seat of state government..." On July 26 1848, Nelson Dewey, Wisconsin's first governor, signed the act that formally created the University of Wisconsin. The board of regents held their initial meeting in the library room of the capitol on October 7, 1848, and provided John W. Sterling a $500 per-annum salary to become the university's first professor (mathematics). The University's first class, with 17 students, met in a Madison school building on February 5, 1849.

Regents discussed the building of the university, and the original campus was selected. It was comprised of a 50 acre (200,000 m²) tract of land "bounded north by Fourth lake, east by a street to be opened at right angles with King [later State] street, south by Mineral Point Road [University avenue], and west by a carriage-way from said road to the lake." The initial building plans also called for a "main edifice fronting towards the Capitol, three stories high, surmounted by an observatory for astronomical observations." This building, University Hall, now Bascom Hall , was finally completed in 1859. North Hall, constructed in 1851, was actually the campus' first building. Finally, in 1854, Levi Booth and Charles T. Wakeley became the first graduates of the university. Academics continued to improve at Wisconsin, and in 1892, the university granted its first Ph.D. to future university president Charles R. Van Hise.

Other notable historical moments in Wisconsin's first century include:

  • In 1861, the Wisconsin Alumni Foundation was founded.
  • On April 4, 1892, the campus's first student-run newspaper began publishing. Today, The Daily Cardinal is the oldest student-run campus newspaper.
  • 1898 saw UW music instructor Henry Dyke Sleeper write “Varsity,” the university’s traditional alma mater song.
  • The Wisconsin Union was founded in 1907, second only to Harvard's among U.S. universities.
  • William Purdy and Carl Beck wrote On, Wisconsin in 1909, which became the fight song for UW athletic teams.
  • The UW Arboretum dedicated itself to restoring lost landscapes, such as prairies, in 1934.

In the years 1966 through 1970, the University of Wisconsin was shaken by a series of student protests, and by the use of force by authorities in response. The first major demonstrations protested the presence on campus of recruiters for the Dow Chemical Company, which supplied the napalm used in the Vietnam War. Another target of protest was the Army Mathematics Research Center (AMRC), clearly identified and centrally located in the Sterling Hall physics building. Director J. Barkley Rosser, an eminent logician, publicly minimized any practical role and implied that AMRC pursued only pure mathematics. But the student newspaper, The Daily Cardinal, obtained quarterly reports that AMRC submitted to the Army. The Cardinal published a series of investigative articles making a convincing case that AMRC was pursuing research that was directly pursuant to specific US Department of Defense requests, and relevant to counterinsurgency operations in Vietnam. AMRC became a magnet for demonstrations, in which protesters chanted "U.S. out of Vietnam! Smash Army math!" In 1970, Karleton Armstrong and three other men stole a van from computer science professor Larry Travis , filled it with ammonium nitrate and fuel oil mixture, parked it next to Sterling Hall, and exploded it, killing physics graduate student Robert Fassnacht . At that time, it was described as "the single most destructive act of sabotage in United States history."

The Badger Herald was founded in 1969. The Badger Herald debuted as an alternative voice on campus. Born to cover and combat the turmoil of the Vietnam protests, the Herald maintains its maverick spirit, though it has shed the “alternative” reputation. Today, they are the largest fully independent daily campus newspaper in the nation. They receive no funding or other assistance from the university in publishing 16,000 issues, five days a week. The University of Wisconsin is to this day the only major American university with two daily student newspapers.


The school's sports teams are called the Wisconsin Badgers. They participate in the NCAA's Division I-A and in the Big Ten Conference; its men's and women's hockey programs compete in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

Current university research

The University is considered a major hub of public embryonic stem cell research. This has brought significant moral questions to the University from various institutions, with restrictions from the Bush Administration's domestic policy restricting some research.

Notable Wisconsin alumni

Notable Wisconsin faculty, former and current

Related topics

External links

Last updated: 05-06-2005 13:35:26
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04