Agency Primer: University of Wisconsin System

Agency Primer by IRG:

University of Wisconsin System

The UW System has deep roots in Wisconsin history. Before becoming a state, the territorial legislature passed laws in 1836, 1838, and 1839 regarding the creation and location of a publicly funded university. With the establishment of Wisconsin’s statehood in 1848, the state’s constitution stated in Article X, Section 6, “Provision shall be made by law for the establishment of a state university at or near the seat of state government, and for connecting with the same, from time to time, such colleges in different parts of the state as the interests of education may require.” Classes would begin at the new university located in Madison in 1849. In 1866, the Board of Regents was created to over- see this and subsequent universities.

In 1857, the legislature appropriated funding to create two-year “normal schools” to train teachers. These normal schools would be governed by a Board of Regents of Normal Schools. In 1929, the schools were renamed state teachers colleges and authorized to offer baccalaureate degrees. Having been renamed “State Universities,” the legislature merged the two parallel university systems in 1971 and the University of Wisconsin System was born.

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