Historical Highlights

  • 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.