University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh[3] (also known as UW Oshkosh) is the third-largest university in Wisconsin, United States.[4] As part of the University of Wisconsin System, UW Oshkosh offers bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees in an annual on- and off-campus enrollment of nearly 14,000.

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
TypeState university
Endowment$18.18 million[1]
ChancellorAndrew Leavitt
Students13,902 (2014)[2]
Undergraduates12,623 (2014)[2]
Postgraduates945 (2014)[2]
Location, ,

44°01′31″N 88°33′04″W
CampusUrban, 173.5 acres (70 ha)
ColorsBlack, gold


In 1871 the school opened as Oshkosh State Normal School, Wisconsin's third teacher-training school. Oshkosh Normal was the first state normal school in the United States to have a kindergarten.

The university was renamed Oshkosh State Teachers College in 1927, Wisconsin State College–Oshkosh in 1951, and Wisconsin State University–Oshkosh in 1964. It became part of the University of Wisconsin System in 1971 and gained its current name.

Oshkosh has been the home of quality and innovative higher education for more than 144 years. The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh has attracted visionary leaders and dedicated faculty. It has gloried in its successes. It has weathered economic depression, wars and a devastating fire while evolving from a teacher-training institution to a major, comprehensive university.

Founded as a state normal school, this institution came into being as a tough-minded, practical response to the demands of an earlier era. In the years following the Civil War, immigrants streamed into the state. There was an urgent need to train qualified teachers to bring out the best in the new arrivals and their children.

To compete with its sister cities for the state's third normal school, the Oshkosh Common Council pledged $30,000 and a six-acre site. Costs for the elegant, three-story building exceeded estimates so far that there was no money to staff or furnish the school. The Board of Regents of Normal Schools allowed it to stand empty on its Algoma Boulevard site for one year. Yet, the Oshkosh Normal School was destined to become the state's foremost institution for educating teachers, producing thousands of educators and contributing to Wisconsin leadership in education.

In fall 1871, President George S. Albee headed a faculty of five normal school teachers, the model school director and three instructors. The 43 students who attended the first day of classes had been interviewed personally by Albee to ensure they met his academic and moral standards.

In the early years, tuition was free to all who declared an intent to teach in Wisconsin public schools. There was a $1 book rental fee for each of the three terms in an academic year. The big expense at the time was room and board—up to $4 dollars a week for board and a furnished room with “lights and fuel.”

Oshkosh Normal became the first state normal school in the nation to have a kindergarten. Rose C. Swart, a powerhouse in the model school department for half a century, introduced practice teaching in 1872.

Under President John H. Keith, one of the best equipped gymnasiums in the nation was constructed. The school added domestic science and industrial education and, in 1912, gained the Industrial Arts Building—later named Harrington Hall.

Witnesses to the fire that destroyed the main building on a snowy March night in 1916 recalled heroic attempts to save collections and equipment. Dempsey Hall replaced the landmark building in 1918.

Enrollment slumped when the United States entered World War I, but college faculty and administration did their best to support the war effort. In fall 1918, a War Department telegram notified President Harry A. Brown of the arrival of a U.S. Army officer who would establish a Students’ Army Training Corps (SATC) on campus. The Army would supply “uniforms, boots and overcoats.” One of the school's temporary buildings was taken over by the SATC to be used as barracks. The campus green spaces became parade grounds, and practice trenches were dug behind the Industrial Arts Building.

After a fierce fight in the state legislature, President Harry A. Brown helped the school and others like it become a degree-granting institution. The school was renamed Oshkosh State Teachers College. By 1930, Brown's dream of a model school building, the Rose C. Swart Training School, had become a reality.

Forrest R. Polk, a faculty member and WWI combat veteran, was named president of the college in 1931. His tenure spanned the Depression, World War II and the Korean War.

The Great Depression struck hard in Winnebago County. Faculty reported that students sometimes fainted from hunger in class. Still, enrollment increased during this time. Many students from north-eastern Wisconsin, unable to afford the tuition and expenses at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, found opportunities to continue their studies closer to home for far less money.

During World War II, some 1,500 students joined the armed forces. Forty-two died in combat. The near empty college was forced to lay off staff until the school was selected for aviation cadet training. During 18 months in 1943 and 1944, more than 1,000 cadets passed through OSTC. The cadets lived in the Swart Hall “barracks” and conducted drill practice on Algoma Boulevard.

Under the GI Bill of Rights, veterans flocked back to school. Making rapid transitions, veterans with still-fresh combat experiences returned to a placid campus little changed since the 1930s. It was not long, however, before both the mission and landscape of the school would expand significantly. As more high school graduates became the first in their families to attend college, the teaching college model became increasingly outdated.

To appeal to a growing population of college students, teacher colleges statewide were given the privilege to offer liberal arts programs. The new curricula would enable the schools to train students for a variety of occupations beyond teaching. A change in name to Wisconsin State Colleges reflected the shift in the schools’ direction.

Under the leadership of Roger E. Guiles, the school's mission and course offerings broadened even more as the school entered the state university system. Dr. David L. Bowman, a pioneer of the teacher education program, facilitated the transition of the school of education to a college within a broader university. To ensure funding opportunities for the school of education, Dr. Bowman established "Educare," a widely successful trust fund specifically to support teacher education in addition to the university budget. The College of Business Administration and the College of Nursing were added, and the School of Education became the College of Education and Human Services, of which Dr. Bowman became the first dean. In 1963, Oshkosh began a graduate school, transforming the one-time normal school into a fully developed university.

Radical and explosive politics were late in coming to Oshkosh. It was not until the late 1960s that the university began to experience the unrest and dissent that touched colleges and universities nationwide. The Vietnam War was only one of a great many issues that stirred the student body. In a nationally known event, African American dissent over course offerings, housing discrimination and other issues culminated in November 1968 with a protest and office takeover known as “Black Thursday.” Over the next three years, the university responded with increased funding and support for a multicultural center and courses in African American history, literature and political science.

In its centennial year, 1971, President Guiles guided the university into the merged University of Wisconsin System. With 11,500 students and 35 buildings, UW Oshkosh was the largest of the “comprehensive universities”.

Chancellor Robert Birnbaum arrived in 1974. A new calendar was instituted with 14-week semesters and three-week interim sessions that offered blocks of time for faculty research. Soon after, an innovative and much-envied Faculty Development Program began, giving impetus to hundreds of faculty research projects.

Birnbaum was chancellor just four years, yet the innovations of the 1970s laid the groundwork for successes in the next decade when the university gained recognition as a regional university of merit. The university's eighth leader, Chancellor Edward M. Penson, served from 1978 to 1989. “Excellence” became the byword in teaching, scholarship and quality of students. The university evolved from open admissions to the institution of choice for many students.

John E. Kerrigan was named chancellor in 1990. Faced with the twin challenges of budget cuts and rising costs, Kerrigan helped to institute programs to benefit faculty and students. Endowed professorships, based on a $750,000 fund donated by area businesses and individuals, encouraged the scholarly work of faculty members. Entering students of exceptional merit were attracted by academic and leadership scholarships. By mid-decade, 100 of these $1,000 grants were being awarded annually.

Investment in emerging technologies has enabled the campus to remain current and relevant to its students. Over the years, UW Oshkosh has adjusted its mission and created new programs, institutes and degrees that keep its curriculum and services salient to the marketplace of ideas and jobs. Despite 14 years of challenging economic climates, Chancellor Richard Wells, during his tenure from 1998- 2014, looked inward to reinvest in aging facilities.

In 2007, the Student Recreation and Wellness Center added a student-funded facility to the university waterfront, which garnered an Innovative Architecture and Design award from Recreation Management Magazine.[5]

In 2010, the campus opened a refurbished dining hall as its new Student Success Center. The building consolidated student services into a single location. It is designed to be one of the most energy efficient buildings in the state, with a geothermal ground source heating system installed beneath a nearby parking lot.

The campus had three major buildings built in 2010. A new academic building (Sage Hall), the first since 1971, houses the College of Business and allied departments from the College of Letters and Science, including Psychology, Geography, and Environmental Studies. It is designed to use less than half the energy of similar buildings on campus, and to generate 10% of its energy from renewable technologies.[6] A new residence hall (Horizon Village) replaced three older buildings to provide suite-style accommodations. The building's green features include geothermal and solar technologies.[7] The third facility is the first commercial-scale dry fermentation anaerobic biodigester in the Americas, a waste-to-energy plant that will produce up to 10% of the campus electricity and heat.[8]

During this same time, the university engaged the community by working with regional businesses to provide university solutions to local industrial and commercial problems, while strengthening scholarship and internship opportunities for its students. Similarly, regional organizations dedicated to improving the social, cultural, natural and educational environments of the region have benefited from a faculty, staff and student body dedicated to engagement. Wells also led the campus toward a commitment toward sustainability and environmental consciousness and action that garners international attention and respect. The university's innovative general education program holds sustainability as well as civic engagement and intercultural knowledge as its core ideas.

Arriving in 2014, Chancellor Leavitt joined a University holding true to the Wisconsin Idea, the belief that the university should meet the needs of the people of Wisconsin. Leavitt's direction in navigating the university through challenges and opportunities will bring value to Wisconsinites in terms of community-building, human capital and brainpower, markets and market opportunity, knowledge and expertise, and regional quality of life.[9]

In 2018, the University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac and the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley became branch campuses of UWO.


UW Oshkosh is the second-largest purchaser of renewable energy in Wisconsin, and ranks 23rd among U.S. colleges and universities in renewable energy use.[10]

The UW Oshkosh Model United Nations program has won over 30 Outstanding Delegation awards at the National Model United Nations. [11]

Student life


Since 2003 the men's club volleyball team has finished in the top five every year except 2008 at the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) championships. In 2005, the team finished second,[12] and first in 2006,[13] 2007 and 2011.[14] The small Division 3 team won back to back to back NCVF Division 1 men's club volleyball national championships in 2014, 2015 and 2016.[15]

The baseball program appeared in 5 Division III championship games between 1985 and 1994.[16] There have been eight Titans players to play in Major League Baseball: Jim Magnuson, Dan Neumeier, Jim Gantner, Dorian "Doe" Boyland, Gary Varsho, Terry Jorgensen, Jarrod Washburn, and Jack Taschner.

In 2012, the UW Oshkosh Titans football team advanced to the NCAA Division III Semi-finals before falling to St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Titans finished with a 13-1 (7-0 WIAC) record and ranked as the #4 team by In 2015, the Titans were again undefeated in the WIAC regular season and advanced to the NCAA Division III Quarter-finals before losing to WIAC rival UW-Whitewater. The Titans were 2016 national runners-up, losing to the University of Mary Hardin–Baylor in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, the NCAA Division III Championship game. In 2017 the Titans were again undefeated and were the #1-seeded team in the Division III NCAA tournament. They were defeated in the semi-final game in Oshkosh by eventual national champions, the University of Mount Union.

The men's basketball program was in the NAIA Men's Basketball Championships in 1960, 1963, 1967, and 1968;[17] and the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournaments in 1996-1998, and 2002-2003.[18] In 2019, the men's team won the Division III National Championship.

The women's basketball program played in the NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Championship every year from 1990 to 1992, and again from 1994 to 2000. In 1995, they reached the Final Four, and the following year (1996), won the National Championship.[19]

The women's gymnastics program won the AIAW Championship for Division III in 1980, the NAIA national women's gymnastics championship in 1986, and National Collegiate Gymnastics Association championships in 1989 and 2007.

The men's gymnastics program won NAIA gymnastics championships under Titans Hall of Fame coach Ken Allen in 1973, 1974, and then 5 straight years from 1978 to 1982. In addition, they won the NCAA Men's Gymnastics championship in Division II in 1980, 1981, and 1982, before the two divisions were merged in 1984.[20]

The women's track and field team has won the Division III outdoor championship in 1990, 1991, 1995, 1996, 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2011. They won the Division III indoor championship in 1994, 1996, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2011, and 2013. The Titans finished as runners-up in the 1989, 1992, 1999, 2005, 2009, 2010 and 2012 at the Division III outdoor championships, and finished as runners-up in the 1990, 1991, 1992, 2002, 2010 and 2012 at the Division III indoor championships.

The women's cross country team won the NCAA Division III Championship in 1987, 1988, 1991, and 1996, and were runners-up in 1989, 1990, and 1995.[21]

The men's track and field team won both the Division III Indoor and Outdoor Championships in 2009 and were runners-up in the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field meet in 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2013.

The men's cross country team won the NCAA Division III Championship in 1988, 1989, 1990, and 2002.[22]

The women's softball program went to the World Series in 1988. They also made NCAA tournament appearances in 2007 and 2008 coming up one game short of the World Series after losing the regional championship game to conference rival Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The Titans returned to the NCAA tournament in 2017, losing to Trine University in the NCAA Division III Super-Regional round.

The main on-campus sports facility is Kolf Sports Center, which contains facilities for basketball, indoor track, volleyball, gymnastics, and wrestling. Other events held there include commencement ceremonies, concerts, and regional conventions. Albee Hall and Pool host swimming and diving events. Titan Stadium (the football/soccer/outdoor track venue), Tiedemann Field at Alumni Stadium (baseball), and the UW-Oshkosh Softball Park are located across the Fox River, 1.3 miles from campus. In 2005, a multimillion-dollar renovation was completed with support of the Oshkosh community. In 2017, a new, state-of-the-art synthetic surface was laid for the football/soccer field. The best attended sporting events at Titan Stadium are for the two Oshkosh public high school football teams that use it as their home field.

Greek life

Fraternities (as of Spring 2017) and Sororities (as of Spring 2017)


Among campus dormant chapters, Phi Sigma Kappa was present since 1925, first as the Periclean Club, which in 1965 renamed itself as a chapter of Phi Sigma Epsilon, closing with most other groups in the late 1970s. Its national merged with the larger and older Phi Sigma Kappa in 1985, and its alumni remain active today.

From this downturn, fraternities and sororities began to re-emerge in the mid-1980s, according to the Fraternity & Sorority Life office.[23]

Student media

The school's newspaper is the award-winning Advance-Titan, a weekly publication produced by students. It was founded in 1894 by students and faculty.

The school's radio station, WRST-FM 90.3, is located in the Arts & Communications building. The call letters stand for "Radio Station of the Titans." The station carries Wisconsin Public Radio and student programming.

Titan TV, the school's television channel, was for a time the only NCAA Division III school to telecast all home football and men's and women's basketball games complete with live pre-game, halftime, and post-game shows.

Historic places

Three locations on the campus have been listed on Registered Historic Places.

Oshkosh State Normal School Historic District
Dempsey Hall
LocationBuildings at 800, 842, and 912 Algoma Blvd., and 845 Elmwood Ave., Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Area9 acres (3.6 ha)
ArchitectVan Ryn & DeGelleke
Architectural styleGothic, Other, Collegiate Gothic
NRHP reference #84000722[24]
Added to NRHPDecember 6, 1984

Oshkosh State Normal School Historic District

Three buildings on the original campus comprise this historic district. Dempsey Hall serves as the administration center of the campus. Harrington Hall hosts geology classes. Swart Hall, completed in 1928, is used by the mathematics, social work, and sociology departments and houses the Center for Economic Education. It was originally used as a lab school where student teachers taught kindergarten through ninth grade students.

Oviatt House
Oviatt House
Location842 Algoma Blvd., Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Area1.2 acres (0.49 ha)
ArchitectWaters, William
Architectural styleLate Victorian
NRHP reference #79000121[24]
Added to NRHPAugust 27, 1979

Oviatt House

Moses Hooper moved to Oshkosh in 1863, and started construction of the house in 1882. It was located at the north edge of the Wisconsin State Normal School at Oshkosh. It cost approximately $20,000 to build. Hooper moved into his new residence on October 31, 1883. The structure had modern amenities including hot water, heat, and running water. The interior was painted by local painters Frank Waldo and Gustav Behncke. The house was sold on September 20, 1900 to Dr. Charles W. Oviatt, a surgeon who paid $18,000 for the property. After Oviatt's death in 1912, his heirs sold the house and grounds to the State Normal School Regents in 1913 with the agreement that the heirs could live in the house until June 1914.[25]

The house was first used by the school as a women's dormitory, the first on campus. Because the dormitory operated at a loss, school president Polk discontinued the venture in 1932. After considering dismantling the building, Polk started renting the house from the school in 1934. The following three presidents of the school also resided in the house, ending with President Penson in 1989. The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Foundation moved its office in the house the following year.[25]

The Oviatt House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.[25]

Pollock, William E., Residence
Pollock Alumni House
Location765 Algoma Blvd., Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Arealess than one acre
Architectural styleOther, Mission/spanish Revival, Spanish-Mediterranean
NRHP reference #84000728[24]
Added to NRHPDecember 6, 1984

William E. Pollock Residence

William E. Pollock managed OshKosh B'Gosh. He had Fluor Brothers construction company build the house in 1920 for $19,000. The yard included a three-car garage, garden, and fishing pond. Pollock lived in the house from 1920 until 1937. He sold the house on a land contract, but the house was returned to him after the contract was unfulfilled. Pollock then donated the house to the Oshkosh State Teachers College in 1943.[26]

The college turned the residence into a women's dormitory which could house up to 32 co-eds. In the 1960s it was used as an honors dormitory until closing in 1967. From 1967 until 1970 it housed the College of Nursing offices. When the College of Nursing was relocated to a new building, the structure was taken over by the Alumni Association, who have occupied it since 1970. It is occasionally used for special functions.[26] Notable visitors have included President Jimmy Carter, United Nations ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, and Edward Albee.[26]

The house is designed as a Mediterranean Revival style house with Italian and Spanish motif. The entrance has an ornate semi-circular wrought iron door leading into a large foyer. The front entry hall opens into a large living room and a smaller parlor. A formal staircase rises to an open landing and to a study. The second story bedrooms are used as offices for Alumni and Foundation staff. The rear consists of a formal dining room, kitchen, and pantry. The building has three chimneys capped with campaniles that resemble Italian bell towers. The residence's exterior is framed by concrete planters and topped by a wrought iron balcony outside of the second floor French windows. The roof is low-pitched red-barrel tile.[26]

Notable alumni and faculty

See also


  1. As of June 30, 2015. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY2013 to FY2014" (PDF). National Association of College and University Business Officers and Commonfund Institute. February 27, 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 8, 2015. Retrieved October 11, 2015.
  2. "Fast Facts (2014)". University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Retrieved 2012-02-25.
  3. "What is the UW System". 23 September 2015. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  4. "UW Oshkosh highlights its success and prepares for the future". University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh. Archived from the original on 2011-06-11. Retrieved May 3, 2009.
  5. Citation error. See inline comment how to fix.
  6. Citation error. See inline comment how to fix.
  7. Citation error. See inline comment how to fix.
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  9. UW Oshkosh. "UW Oshkosh Capsule History" (PDF). UW Oshkosh Archives. Retrieved 02/06/2018. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  10. "The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh". Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  11. UW Oshkosh Today » UWO Model United Nations Team earns another round of awards at national competition. (2013-04-11). Retrieved on 2013-10-05.
  12. "NIRSA". Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  13. "NIRSA". Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  14. "NIRSA". Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  15. Sharkey, Kaitlin. "UW-Oshkosh wins NCVF National Championship". WBAY-TV. Archived from the original on May 31, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  16. All-time Division III baseball champions. (2012-05-27). Retrieved on 2013-10-05.
  17. University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Athletics. Retrieved on 2013-10-05.
  18. University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Athletics. Retrieved on 2013-10-05.
  19. University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Athletics. Retrieved on 2013-10-05.
  20. University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Athletics. Retrieved on 2013-10-05.
  21. .
  22. Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, accessed 10 July 2017.
  23. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  24. History of the Oviatt House Archived 2005-02-11 at the Wayback Machine; University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh; Retrieved October 26, 2007
  25. History of the Pollock House Archived 2005-02-11 at the Wayback Machine; University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh; Retrieved October 29, 2007
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