University of Wisconsin - Madison

Madison, United States
Website: Founded: 1848 year 601–800 place StudyQA ranking: 2026 pts. No. Students: 43389 No. Staff: 21608 Languages: English Phone: +16082621234 Fax: +16082620123
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About the University of Wisconsin–Madison

The University of Wisconsin–Madison (also known as University of Wisconsin, Wisconsin, "UW", or regionally as, UW–Madison, or simply Madison) is a public research university in Madison, Wisconsin, United States. Founded when Wisconsinachieved statehood in 1848, UW–Madison is the official state university of Wisconsin, and the flagship campus of the University of Wisconsin System. It was the first public university established in Wisconsin and remains the oldest and largest public university in the state. It became a land-grant institution in 1866. The 933-acre (378 ha) main campus includes four National Historic Landmarks.

UW–Madison is organized into 20 schools and colleges, which enrolled 29,302 undergraduate, 9,445 graduate, and 2,459 professional students and granted 6,659 bachelor's, 3,493 graduate and professional degrees in 2013–2014. The University employs over 21,796 faculty and staff.nIts comprehensive academic program offers 136 undergraduate majors, along with 148 master's degree programs and 120 doctoral programs.

The UW is one of America's Public Ivy universities, which refers to top public universities in the United States capable of providing a collegiate experience comparable with the Ivy League. UW–Madison is also categorized as an RU/VH Research University (very high research activity) in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. In 2012, it had research expenditures of more than $1.1 billion, the third highest among universities in the country. Wisconsin is a founding member of the Association of American Universities.

The Wisconsin Badgers compete in 25 intercollegiate sports in the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference and have won 28 national championships.

History of the University of Wisconsin–Madison

The university had its official beginnings when the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature in its 1838 session passed a law incorporating a "University of the Territory of Wisconsin", and a high-ranking Board of Visitors was appointed. However, this body (the predecessor of the U.W. board of regents) never actually accomplished anything before Wisconsin was incorporated as a state in 1848. The Wisconsin Constitution provided for "the establishment of a state university, at or near the seat of state government..." and directed by the state legislature to be governed by a board of regents and administered by a Chancellor. On July 26, 1846, Nelson Dewey, Wisconsin's firstgovernor, signed the act that formally created the University of Wisconsin. John H. Lathrop became the university's first chancellor, in the fall of 1849. With John W. Sterling as the university's first professor (mathematics), the first class of 17 students met at Madison Female Academy on February 5, 1849. A permanent campus site was soon selected: an area of 50 acres (20.2 ha) "bounded north by Fourth lake, east by a street to be opened at right angles with King street", [later State Street] "south by Mineral Point Road (University Avenue), and west by a carriage-way from said road to the lake." The regents' building plans called for a "main edifice fronting towards the Capitol, three stories high, surmounted by an observatory for astronomical observations." This building, University Hall, now known as Bascom Hall, was finally completed in 1859. On October 10, 1916, a fire destroyed the building's dome, which was never replaced. North Hall, constructed in 1851, was actually the first building on campus. In 1854, Levi Booth and Charles T. Wakeley became the first graduates of the university, and in 1892 the university awarded its first PhD to future university president Charles R. Van Hise.

The Wisconsin Idea

Research, teaching, and service at the UW is influenced by a tradition known as "the Wisconsin Idea", first articulated by UW–Madison President Charles Van Hise in 1904, when he declared "I shall never be content until the beneficent influence of the University reaches every home in the state." The Wisconsin Idea holds that the boundaries of the university should be the boundaries of the state, and that the research conducted at UW–Madison should be applied to solve problems and improve health, quality of life, the environment, and agriculture for all citizens of the state. The Wisconsin Idea permeates the university's work and helps forge close working relationships among university faculty and students, and the state's industries and government. Based in Wisconsin's populist history, the Wisconsin Idea continues to inspire the work of the faculty, staff, and students who aim to solve real-world problems by working together across disciplines and demographics.

World War II

During World War II, University of Wisconsin was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission.


Over time, additional campuses were added to the university. The University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee was created in 1956, and UW–Green Bay and UW–Parkside in 1968. Ten freshman-sophomore centers were also added to this system. In 1971, Wisconsin legislators passed a law merging the University of Wisconsin with the nine universities and four freshman-sophomore branch campuses of the Wisconsin State Universities System, creating the University of Wisconsin System and bringing the two higher education systems under a single board of regents.

Student activism

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, UW–Madison was shaken by a series of student protests, and by the use of force by authorities in response, comprehensively documented in the film The War at Home. 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. Authorities used force to quell the disturbance. The struggle was documented in the book, They Marched into Sunlight, as well as the PBS documentary Two Days in October. Among the students injured in the protest was current Madison mayor Paul Soglin.

Another target of protest was the Army Mathematics Research Center (AMRC) in Sterling Hall, which was also home of the physics department. The student newspaper, The Daily Cardinal, published a series of investigative articles stating that AMRC was pursuing research directly pursuant to US Department of Defense requests, and supportive of military operations in Vietnam. AMRC became a magnet for demonstrations, in which protesters chanted "U.S. out of Vietnam! Smash Army Math!"

On August 24, 1970, near 3:40 am, a bomb exploded next to Sterling Hall, aimed at destroying the Army Math Research Center. Despite the late hour, a post doctoral physics researcher, Robert Fassnacht, was in the lab and was killed in the explosion. The physics department was severely damaged, while the intended target, the AMRC, was scarcely affected. Karleton Armstrong, Dwight Armstrong, and David Fine were found responsible for the blast. Leo Burt was identified as a suspect, but was never apprehended or tried.

Timeline of notable events

Notable historical moments in the first 150 years of the University of Wisconsin–Madison include:

  • 1863 Female students first admitted to University of Wisconsin during the American Civil War,
  • 1866 State legislature designated the University as the Wisconsin land-grant institution
  • 1888 Science Hall is constructed, one of the world's first buildings to use I-beams
  • April 4, 1892 The first edition of the student-run The Daily Cardinal was published
  • 1894 State Board of Regents rejected an effort to purge Professor Richard T. Ely for supporting striking printers, issuing the famous "sifting and winnowing" manifesto in defense of academic freedom, later described as "part of Wisconsin's Magna Carta"
  • 1898 UW music instructors Henry Dyke Sleeper and Conner Ross Buerosse wrote Varsity, the university's alma mater
  • 1904–1905 UW Graduate School established
  • 1905 the University awards the first PhD in chemical engineering ever granted, to Oliver Patterson Watts.
  • 1907 Wisconsin Union was founded
  • 1909 William Purdy and Paul Beck wrote On, Wisconsin the UW–Madison athletic fight song
  • 1907–1911 The "Single-grain experiment" was conducted by Stephen Moulton Babcock and Edwin B. Hart, paving the way for modern nutrition as a science
  • 1913 Vitamin A discovered by UW scientist, Elmer V. McCollum
  • 1916 Vitamin B discovered by McCollum
  • 1919 Radio station 9XM founded on campus (Now WHA (970 AM). It is the oldest continually operating radio station in the United States)
  • 1923 Harry Steenbock invented process for adding vitamin D to milk
  • 1925 Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation chartered to control patenting and patent income on UW–Madison inventions
  • 1934 The University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum, whose mission was to restore lost landscapes, such as prairies, was opened
  • 1936 UW–Madison began an artist-in-residence program, the first ever at a university
  • 1940–1951 Warfarin (Coumadin) developed at UW. Named after Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation
  • 1969 The Badger Herald was founded as a conservative student paper
  • 1970 Sterling Hall bombing
  • 1976 Orchard Street Research Project: Jordan Ellefson, Mark Meyer, Daniel Dechant, Steve Niemuth
  • 1984 University Research Park founded to encourage technology transfer between university and businesses
  • 1988 The Onion founded by two UW–Madison students, Tim Keck and Christopher Johnson
  • 1998 UW–Madison's James Thomson (cell biologist) first isolated and cultured human embryonic stem cells
  • 2011 Wisconsin defeats Michigan State to win the first ever Big Ten Football Championship Game.


Institutional Accreditation or Recognition - The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

Year of first Accreditation - 1913



  • In the 2015 QS World University Rankings, UW was ranked 54th in the world and received five excellence stars.
  • It was ranked 24th among world universities and 18th among universities in the Americas in Shanghai Jiao Tong University's 2015 Academic Ranking of World Universities, which assesses academic and research performance.
  • In the G-factor International University Ranking of 2006, which is a re-analysis of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University data, the UW–Madison was listed 13th.
  • The Times Higher Education Supplement placed it 50th worldwide, based primarily on surveys administered to students, faculty, and recruiters.
  •  Additionally, the professional ranking of world universities from École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris, based in part on the number of senior managerial positions occupied by alumni, placed UW–Madison 35th in the world.


  • UW–Madison was ranked 11th among national universities (with three institutions tied) by the Center for Measuring University Performance in its 2007 report, with rankings based on objective statistics on research, faculty awards, student qualifications, and university assets. Of 38 programs at the UW–Madison that were included in the National Research Council's 1995 study, 16 ranked in the top 10 nationally.
  • In 2007, theChronicle of Higher Education reported that 57 disciplines at the UW–Madison were in the top 10 in the U.S. in scholarly productivity, which placed it second after UC–Berkeley in the number of top ten programs.
  • The UW placed 30th among national universities in Washington Monthly's 2009 rankings, which consider community service and social mobility, as well as research productivity.
  • In 2009, UW–Madison was ranked 6th in the TrendTopper MediaBuzz rankings by the Global Language Monitor.
  • In 2011, the Global Language Monitor increased the ranking to 1st in Internet Media Buzz.
  • Forbes ranked UW-Madison in 69th place on its list of top American colleges for 2015.
  • Madison's undergraduate program was ranked tied for 41st among national universities by U.S.News & World Report for 2015 and tied for 11th among public schools.
  • The same magazine ranked UW's graduate School of Business tied for 33rd, and its undergraduate business program 15th.
  • Twelve CEOs of S&P 500 companies hold degrees from the University of Wisconsin, putting it in a tie with Harvard University and Princeton University for first place.
  • In 2015, USNWR ranked UW's Law School tied for 31st.
  • Other graduate schools ranked by USNWR include the School of Medicine and Public Health, which was 28th in research and 9th in primary care, the College of Engineering tied for 14th, the School of Education 5th, and the La Follette School of Public Affairs 12th.

Student Life @the University of Wisconsin–Madison

Over 750 student organizations or clubs register with the Center for Leadership and Involvement (CFLI) at UW–Madison each year.


UW–Madison is the only university in the country with two daily student newspapers:The Daily Cardinal, founded in 1892 and The Badger Herald, founded in 1969. The Onion was founded in 1988 by two UW–Madison juniors, and was published in Madison before moving to New York City in 2001. It is also the home of The Madison Misnomer, an undergraduate comedy newspaper, founded in 2007.

UW–Madison is also home to one of only two nationally distributed undergraduate international studies journals in the country. The Journal of Undergraduate International Studies (JUIS) is a competitive publication that features peer-reviewed academic articles. It was founded in 2003 by David Coddon with the support of the University of Wisconsin–Madison Leadership Trust.

Campus radio

The University of Wisconsin–Madison campus radio station is WSUM 91.7 FM, "The Snake on the Lake". Historically, UW–Madison has been home to a collection of student run radio stations, a number of which stopped broadcasting after run-ins with the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The current radio station, WSUM, began in 1997 in a webcast only format because of the prolonged battle to get an FCC license and construct a tower. This lasted five years until February 22, 2002, when the station started broadcasting over FM airwaves at 91.7 from its tower in Montrose, Wisconsin. The radio station currently has around 200 volunteer DJs and 8 paid managers. All UW–Madison students, as well as a limited number of community members, are eligible to participate in running the station. WSUM remains entirely free format, which means that the on-air personnel can showcase a large variety of music and talk programming at their discretion with few limitations. WSUM has garnered many awards from the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association for their news, play-by-play broadcasts of Badger athletic events, and unique public service announcements.


Among the student organizations at the school include chapters of the fraternities Acacia, Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Delta Phi, Alpha Gamma Rho Delta Chi andSigma Alpha. Alpha Chi Sigma was founded at the university in 1902.

Religious student organizations include affiliates of the Christian organizations Cru, Athletes in Action, Chi Alpha Campus Ministries and the Christian Legal Society.

MTV's College Life

On April 13, 2009, MTV premiered the reality series College Life about the day-to-day lives of eight UW–Madison freshmen. The show was created by UW–Madison alumnusDavid Wexler. According to MTV, the students did the filming for the series, but not the editing. During production, the university pulled its support of the show. Subsequently, a disclaimer was aired at the beginning of each episode stating that UW–Madison does not endorse the program. Eight episodes aired as of February 22, 2010.


The University of Wisconsin–Madison sports teams participate in the NCAA's Division I-A. With the exception of lightweight Wisconsin Badgers Crew, the university's athletic programs compete in the Big Ten Conference. The women's hockey program competes in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), while the  men's and women's crew programs compete in the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges and Eastern Association of Women's Rowing Colleges, respectively. The school's fight song is On, Wisconsin!. The school's mascot is Buckingham U. Badger, commonly referred to as "Bucky Badger". The athletic director is Barry Alvarez.

2005–2006 marked the first time in school history that four Badger teams won national championships in the same academic year. In the fall, the men's cross country team won its fourth national championship. The winter season was highlighted by the men's and women's ice hockey teams both winning national titles. The year was capped off in the spring with the women's lightweight crew taking its third straight Intercollegiate Rowing Association national crown. In 2008, both men's and women's crew teams claimed national titles.


The Badgers play college football at Camp Randall Stadium. The head coach is Paul Chryst. Before the fourth quarter of every game at Camp Randall, the crowd jumps around to House of Pain's song "Jump Around". After every game, the University of Wisconsin Marching Band plays popular songs during the Fifth Quarter. The Badgers won three Rose Bowl Championships under Alvarez in 1994, 1999, and 2000. In 2006, Bielema led the Badgers to a school record 11-win regular season and to 12 overall wins, defeating Arkansas in the Capital One Bowl. The Badgers lost to TCU in the 2011 Rose Bowl Championship on January 1, 2011. In the 2011 season, the Badgers defended the B1G championship title to go to the 2012 Rose Bowl Championship. The Badgers lost to Oregon 45–38 in the highest-scoring Rose Bowl of all time. The Badgers made it to the 2013 Rose Bowl for their third consecutive Rose Bowl appearance. Brett Bielema took the Arkansas football head coaching position before the game and Barry Alvarez took over as a one-game interim coach. The Badgers lost to Stanford 14-20 for Barry Alvarez's first Rose Bowl loss, he had previously won it three times.

Men's basketball

The Badgers have made 18 consecutive appearances (1999–2016) in the NCAA Tournament, with Final Four visits in 2000, 2014 and 2015, an Elite Eight appearance in 2005, and Sweet Sixteen appearances in 2003, 2008, 2011, 2012, and 2016. Bo Ryan was the head coach from 2001 to 2015. Greg Gard was named interim coach. The Badgers play at the Kohl Center, where the student fans are known as the Grateful Red. In the 2006–2007 season, the Badgers attained their highest AP ranking in school history (#1 Feb. 19–25), garnering 35 first-place votes. The Badgers' earned their only NCAA National Championship in 1941. The Badgers made two consecutive final four appearances from 2014–2015.

Ice hockey

Badger ice hockey first became a men's varsity sport in 1922. Although dropped after the 1934–35 season, it again became a varsity sport in the 1963–64 season. The men's team played in the Dane County Coliseum until moving to the Kohl Center (capacity 15,359) in the fall of 1998. The first ice hockey game played at the Kohl was the Hall of Fame game against the University of Notre Dame. From 1999 to 2012 the men's team led the nation in college hockey attendance, setting an NCAA attendance record (averaging 15,048) during the 2009–10 season, which surpassed their previous record set in 2006–07.

Bob Johnson, nicknamed "Badger Bob" by fans, took over the reins in 1966. Johnson coached the Badger men to three national championships in 1973, 1977 and 1981. Jeff Sauer coached the Badger men to two more titles in 1983 and 1990. Mike Eaves, member of the 1977 NCAA title team, coached the Badger men's team to its sixth national championship in 2006. The six Badger titles rank 4th in NCAA men's ice hockey history. Eaves' 2010 squad advanced to the national championship game during the Badgers' 11th appearance in the men's Frozen Four before bowing to Boston College.

The school's strong ice hockey tradition gained another dimension with the addition of a women's team that began play in the 1999–2000 season. Coached by Mark Johnson, son of "Badger Bob" and another member of the men's 1977 title team, the Badger women won their first NCAA championship on March 26, 2006. The dual 2006 titles marked the first time that both the men's and women's Division I NCAA hockey titles were won by the same school in the same year. The women's team repeated as national champions in 2007 with a victory over the University of Minnesota-Duluth and in 2009 with a victory over Mercyhurst. The team set the NCAA women's hockey attendance record on February 15, 2014, in a game against Minnesota.

Services of the University of Wisconsin–Madison


The University of Wisconsin–Madison has the 12th largest research library collection in North America. More than 40 professional and special-purpose libraries serve the campus. The campus library collections include more than 8.3 million volumes representing human inquiry through all of history. In addition, the collections comprised more than 101,000 serial titles, 6.4 million microform items, and over 8.2 million items in other formats, such as government documents, maps, musical scores, and audiovisual materials. Over 1 million volumes are circulated to library users every year. Memorial Library serves as the principal research facility on campus for the humanities and social sciences. It is the largest library in the state, with over 3.5 million volumes. It also houses a periodical collection, domestic and foreign newspapers, Special Collections, the Mills Music Library, a letterpress printing museum, and the UW Digital Collections Center.

Steenbock Memorial Library is the primary library for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, School of Human Ecology, School of Veterinary Medicine, UW-Extension and Cooperative Extension, and Zoology and Botany Departments. The University of Wisconsin–Madison Archives and Records Management Department and Oral History Program are also located in Steenbock Library. The library is named for UW professor Harry Steenbock (1886–1967), who developed an inexpensive method of enriching foods with Vitamin D in the 1920s. This library is open to the public.

Undergraduates can find many of the resources they need at College Library in Helen C. White Hall. Special collections there include Ethnic Studies, Career, Women's, and Gaus (Poetry). The Open Book collection, created to support the extra-academic interests of undergraduates, contains DVDs, audio books, and video games, and paperback books. The library also has a coffee shop, the Open Book Café. College Library houses a media center with over 200 computer workstations, DV editing stations, scanners, poster printing, and equipment checkout (including laptops, digital cameras, projectors, and more).

The Kurt F. Wendt Library serves the College of Engineering and the Departments of Computer Sciences, Statistics, and Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences. In addition to books, journals, and standards, Wendt Library houses over 1.5 million technical reports in print and microfiche. Designated a Patent and Trademark Depository Library, it maintains all U.S. utility, design, and plant patents, and provides reference tools and assistance for both the general public and the UW–Madison community.

Ebling Library for the Health Sciences is located in the Health Sciences Learning Center. It opened in 2004 after the Middleton Library, Weston Library, and Power Pharmaceutical Library merged collections and staff.

The Kohler Art Library is located in the Conrad A. Elvehjem Building across from the Chazen Museum of Art and serves as the main campus resource for art and architecture. The library supports the Departments of Art and Art History as well as the Chazen Museum. Its collections number over 185,000 volumes covering global art movements of all periods. A feature of the library is the Artists' Book Collection, which contains over 1,000 artists' books from 175 presses and artists. The collection, created as a teaching resource in 1970 by founding Kohler Art Library Director William C. Bunce, was digitized in 2007 by the UW Digital Collections Center. The Kohler Art Library is open to the public.

The online catalog for UW–Madison Libraries is MadCat. It includes bibliographic records for books, periodicals, audiovisual materials, maps, music scores, microforms, and computer databases owned by over 40 campus libraries, as well as records for items that are on order. The UW–Madison Libraries website provides access to resources licensed for use by those affiliated with UW–Madison, in addition to those openly available on the World Wide Web.


The Geology Museum features rocks, minerals, and fossils from around the world. Highlights include a blacklight room, a walk-through cave, and a fragment of the Barringer meteorite. Some noteworthy fossils include the first dinosaur skeleton assembled in Wisconsin (anEdmontosaurus), a shark (Squalicorax) and a floating colony of sea lilies (Uintacrinus), both from the Cretaceous chalk of Kansas, and the Boaz Mastodon, a found on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin in 1897.

The Chazen Museum of Art, formerly the Elvehjem Museum of Art, maintains a collection of paintings, drawings, sculpture, prints and photographs spanning over 700 years of art.

The university's Zoological Museum maintains a collection of approximately 500,000 zoological specimens, which can be used for research and instruction. A special collection contains skeletons, artifacts, and research papers associated with the Galápagos Islands. Since 1978, the UW–Madison Zoological Museum has been one of only three museums granted permission by the Ecuadoran Government to collect anatomical specimens from the Galápagos Islands.

The L. R. Ingersoll Physics Museum contains a range of exhibits demonstrating classical and modern physics. Many of the exhibits allow for hands-on interaction by visitors. The museum also has a number of historical instruments and pictures on display.

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