Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 749 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: it!
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN, a co-educational institution of higher learning at Madison, Wisconsin, the capital of the state, established in 1848 under state control, supported largely by the state, and a part of the state educational system. The university occupies a picturesque and beautiful site on an irregular tract (600 acres), including both wooded hills and undulating meadow lands stretching for 1 m. along the shores of Lake Mendota. The main building, University Hall (1859; enlarged 1897–1899 and 1905–1906), which crowns University Hill, is exactly 1 m. from the state capitol. The other buildings include North Hall (185o), South Hall (1854), Science Hall (1887), the Biology Building (1911), the Chemical Building (1904–1905), the Hydraulic Laboratory (1905), the Engineering Building (1900), the Law School (1894), Chadbourne Hall (1870; remodelled in '896) for women, Lathrop Hall (1910) for women, Assembly Hall (1879), the Chemical Engineering Building (1885), Machine Shops (1885), the armoury and gymnasium (1894), a group of half a dozen buildings belonging to the College of Agriculture and the Washburn Observatory (1878; a gift of Governor C. C. Washburn). On the lower campus is the building of the Wisconsin State Historical Society. The university includes a -college of letters and science, with general courses in liberal arts and special courses in chemistry, commerce, journalism, music, pharmacy and training of teachers and library work; a college of engineering, with courses in civil, mechanical, electrical, chemical and mining engineering, and an applied electro-chemistry course; a college of agriculture, with a government experiment station, long, middle and short courses in agriculture, a department of home economics, a dairy course and farmers' institutes; a college of law (3 years' course); a college of medicine, giving the first two years of a medical course; a graduate school; and an extension division, including departments of instruction by lectures, of correspondence study, of general information and welfare, and of debating and public discussion. There is a summer session, in which, in addition to courses in all the colleges and schools, instruction is offered to artisans and apprentices and in library training. The college of agriculture, one of the largest andbest equipped in the country, provides also briefer courses of practical training for farmers arid farmers' wives. In connexion with the state department of health, instruction on the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis is provided, exhibits and instructors or demonstrators being sent to every part of the state. The state hygienic laboratory is conducted by the university. On the university campus is the forest products laboratory (1910) of the United States government. At Milwaukee there is a university settlement associated with the social work of the university. Admission to the university is on examination or certificate from accredited high schools or academies. Tuition is free for residents of the state. Courses in the first two years are largely prescribed, in the last two years elective " under a definite system." In 1910 there were 395 instructors and 4947 students (356o men and 1387 women). The university library proper, of 163,000 volumes and 40,000 pamphlets, is housed in the Historical Society's building, in which are also the collection of the Historical Society and that of the Wisconsin Academy of Arts and Sciences—a total in 1910 of 404,000 books and 202,000 pamphlets. The grounds, buildings and equipments of the university are valued at $2,000,000. The income of the university, including income from the Federal land grants, from invested productive funds and from state tax levies, exceeds one million dollars annually. Since 1905 the state legislature has appropriated for the current expenses of the university a 1 mill tax. More than $2.000,000 was left to the university in 1908 for a memorial theatre, research professorships and graduate fellowships by William Freeman Vilas (184o–19o8), who graduated at the university in 1858 and was postmaster-general of the United States in 1885–1888, secretary of the interior in '888–'889 and U.S. senator from Wisconsin in 1891–1897. An act for the creation of a university to be supported by the Territory was passed by the first session of the Territorial legislature in 1836, but except for the naming of a board of trustees the plan was never put into operation. A similar act for the establishment of a university at Green Bay had no more result. In 1838 a university of the Territory of Wisconsin was created by act of the Territorial legislature and was endowed with two townships of land. This was the germ- of the state university, provision for which was made in the state constitution adopted in 1848. The university was incorporated by act of the legislature in that year with a hoard of regents as the governing body, chosen by the legislature.' A preparatory department was opened in the autumn of that year, and John H. Lathrop (1799–1866), a graduate of Yale, then president of the university of Missouri, was chosen as the first chancellor of the new institution. He was inaugurated in 185o, and in that year North Hall, the first building, was erected. The first academic class graduated in 1854. In the same year the Federal Congress (which had granted to the state seventy-two sections of salt-spring lands, and as no such lands were found in the state, had been petitioned to change the nature of the grant) granted seventy-two sections to be "sold in such manner as the legislature may direct for the benefit and in aid of the university." The Federal land grants, however, which ought to have supported the university, were sacrificed to a desire to attract immigrants, and the institution for many years was compelled to get along on a small margin which rendered extension difficult; and the university permanent fund was soon impaired for the construction of buildings. Henry Barnard in 1859 succeeded Lathrop as chancellor, but resigned in 1861. After the Civil War, the office of chancellor was displaced by that of president. Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1823–1883), a graduate (and afterwards president) of Williams College, became president'in '867, and in his presidency (1867–187o) the university was reorganized, a college of law was founded, co-education was established and the agricultural college was consolidated with the university, a radical departure from the plan adopted in most of the Western states. In 1871–1874 John Hanson Twombly, a graduate of Wesleyan University and one of the founders of Boston University, was president, and the legislature first provided for an annual state tax of $ro,000 for the university. With the coming to the presidency (1874) of John Bascom (b. 1827), another graduate of Williams, the university began a new period of development; the preparatory department was ' The university is now governed by regents, of whom two—the president of the university and the state superintendent of public instruction—are ex officio, and the others are appointed by the governor for a term of three years, two from the state at large and one from each congressional district. abolished in 188o, and the finances of the university were put on a firm basis by the grant of a state tax of one-tenth of a mill. Under the presidency (1887-1892) of Thomas Chrowder Chamberlin (b. 1843), a graduate of Beloit College and a member of the U.S. Geological Survey, the university attendance grew from 500 to loon students, and buildings were erected for the college of law, dairy school and science hall. Under President Charles Kendall Adams (1835-1902), who was a graduate of the university of Michigan, where as professor of history he had introduced in 1869-187o the German method of " seminar " study and research, and who had just resigned the presidency (1885-1892) of Cornell University, the enrolment of the university increased from t000 in 1892 to 2600 in 1901, and the growth of the graduate school was particularly notable. Under Charles Richard Van-Hise,' who was the first alumnus to become president and who succeeded President Adams in 1904, the growth of the university continued, and its activities were constantly enlarged and the scope of its work was widened. See S. H. Carpenter, A Historical Sketch of the University of Wisconsin from 1849 to 1876 (Madison, 1876), and R. G. Thwaites, The University of Wisconsin, its History and its Alumni (Ibid., 1900).
WISCONSIN (known as " the Badger' state ")

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.