Historical Highlights

Year Event
1848 Wisconsin’s first governor, Nelson Dewey, approves the UW through the incorporation act and invests its government in a board of regents.
1849 First class meets Feb. 5.
1851 North Hall, the first campus building, opens.
1861 Wisconsin Alumni Association formed.
1866 The UW designated as a Wisconsin land-grant institution.
1885 Marching Band founded to accompany the University Military Battalion.
1892 First UW doctoral degree granted.
1894 Regents adopt academic freedom (“sifting and winnowing”) statement.
1905 Wisconsin Idea doctrine created.
1907 Wisconsin Union founded.
1917 WHA begins broadcasting.
1924 Wisconsin General Hospital (now UW Hospital and Clinics) opens.
1925 Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation is chartered.
1935 UW economist heads the commission that drafts Social Security legislation.
1936 Artist-in-residence program — the first at an American university — established.
1939 Union Theater opens.
1945 UW Foundation organized.
1965 UW Extension created.
1967 Antiwar protests begin on campus, culminating with August 1970 bombing of Sterling Hall.
1970 Faculty Senate meets, replacing meetings of the whole faculty.
1971 The Wisconsin Legislature establishes the UW System.
1971 Union South opens.
1979 Clinical Science Center opens.
1984 University Research Park founded.
1987 The Academic Staff Assembly holds its first meeting.
1988 Wisconsin Welcome inaugurated for incoming students.
1989 UW Foundation launches the Campaign for Wisconsin.
1994 Science Hall and the Armory-Gymnasium (Red Gym) dedicated as National Historic Landmarks.
1996 UW Hospital and Clinics begins operating under a public authority.
1996 Regents approve the Campus Master Plan to guide campus development.
1997 The campus’s first residential learning community, Chadbourne Residential College, opens.
1999 The university celebrates its sesquicentennial.
2002 Online enrollment begins.
2006 Alumni John and Tashia Morgridge give UW-Madison $50 million, its largest ever individual gift.
2007 American Family Children’s Hospital opens.
2009 The Madison Initiative for Undergraduates is adopted to expand need-based financial aid.
2010 The Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery facility opens.
2011 The new Union South opens.
2011 The UW awards more than 10,000 degrees during the academic year for the first time in its history.
2012 Wisconsin Alumni Association celebrates 150 years and announces plans for Alumni Park.
2012 An annual giving campaign, Share the Wonderful, launched to encourage funding support for the university.
2012 Nancy Nicholas Hall, the new home of the School of Human Ecology, opens.
2012 A central Office of Undergraduate Advising is created.
2013 The university launches its first Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
2013 The Wisconsin Energy Institute opens.
2013 Discovery to Product (D2P) is launched to boost campus entrepreneurship.
2014 The UW is one of only four American institutions to have three super-elite scholars in the same year.
2014 The UW returns to top spot for producing Peace Corps volunteers.
2014 Signe Skott Cooper Hall, the new home for the School of Nursing, opens.
2014 UW alumni John and Tashia Morgridge donate $100 million to the university.
2015 All Ways Forward, the largest fundraising campaign in university history, is launched.