Wisconsin, University of, main campus at Madison; land-grant and state supported; coeducational; chartered 1848, opened 1849. Its history was disturbed by storms over the policies of Glenn Frank and of Alexander Meiklejohn in the 1920s and 30s. In 1955 the extension division merged with Wisconsin State College at Milwaukee to form the Univ. of Wisconsin—Milwaukee (coeducational; authorized by the legislature 1955, opened 1956). The collections of the American Geographical Society, a geological museum, a planetarium, and the Center for Great Lakes Studies are at Milwaukee. Additional campuses of the Univ. of Wisconsin system are at Eau Claire, Green Bay, La Crosse, Oshkosh, Kenosha (Parkside campus), Platteville, River Falls, Stevens Point, Menomonie (Stout campus), Superior, and Whitewater. Most of these universities began in the 19th cent. as normal schools, became four-year teachers colleges (from 1925 to 1927), became liberal arts colleges (by 1951), and gained university status (by 1964). Formerly part of the Wisconsin State Univ. system, they merged with the Univ. of Wisconsin in 1971. The university also operates 13 two-year centers throughout the state.
Well-known divisions of the Univ. of Wisconsin are the colleges of agriculture and engineering, the medical school, and the Institute for Research in the Humanities. Notable among the extensive facilities at Madison are the Space Astronomy Laboratory, the Institute for Accelerator Physics, the La Follette Center for Public Affairs, the Numerical Analysis Laboratory, the Wisconsin Center for Theatre and Film Research, and the state engineering experiment station, which includes a solar research laboratory. The university library contains excellent collections relating to literature, science, and Russian history.
See history by M. Curti and V. Carstenson (1949); study by W. A. Strang (1971).