The University of Wisconsin–Madison (also known as University of Wisconsin, Wisconsin, or regionally as UW, UW–Madison, or simply Madison) is a public research university located in Madison, Wisconsin, United States. Founded when Wisconsin achieved 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 29,504 undergraduate, 9,430 graduate, and 2,526 professional students and granted 6,494 bachelor’s, 3,560 graduate and professional degrees in 2012-2013. The University employs over 21,727 faculty and staff. Its comprehensive academic program offers 132 undergraduate majors, along with 149 master’s degree programs and 120 doctoral programs.
The UW is 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’s Division I Big Ten Conference and have won 28 national championships.
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 first governor, 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.