UWRF History

Capsule History

Capsule History

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls was founded in 1874 as the fourth State Normal School in Wisconsin and the first in the northwestern part of the state. Its first building was dedicated on Sept. 2, 1875.

When the original Normal School building was destroyed by fire in 1897, other communities sought to have the school moved. But the citizens of River Falls were determined to retain it, and the building now known as South Hall was completed in 1898. After the fire, only a half day of classes was missed, for the community offered churches, lodge rooms and other buildings as meeting places.

The school experienced a slow but steady growth in curriculum and enrollment until 1912, when the Department of Agriculture was established and enrollment leaped. Construction of North Hall in 1914 and the addition of a wing in 1926 showed further progress. The addition of a four-year curriculum in 1926 preceded the change of all state normal schools to state teacher colleges in 1927.

In 1951, with the addition of liberal arts courses, the school was designated Wisconsin State College at River Falls. When graduate courses were added in 1964 the name became Wisconsin State University-River Falls. The present name came with the merger of the state universities and the University of Wisconsin in the fall of 1971.

A boom in growth began after World War II. Since then, hardly a year has passed without an addition to the campus in the form of new lands, buildings or remodeling. All ten residence halls have been built since then, in addition to Chalmer Davee Library, Karges Physical Education and Recreation Center, Ames Teacher Education Center, Hagestad Student Center, Agriculture Science Hall, a heating plant, Rodli Commons, the E.H. Kleinpell Fine Arts Classroom Building, Centennial Science Hall, a maintenance and central stores building, an Agricultural Engineering Technology addition and a Food Science wing to the Agriculture Science Hall. The Robert P. Knowles Physical Education and Recreation Center was completed in 1987 and the Karges Physical Education Center was remodeled in 1989. A major remodeling of the Hagestad Student Center was completed in 1990. South Hall, built on the site of the original Normal School, received a major renovation in 1992-93. Both South Hall and North Hall are on the National Register of Historic Places. The Chalmer Davee Library, built in 1954, was remodeled during 1994-96. The new Walker W. Wyman Education Building was dedicated in 2000. The Ames Teacher Education Center was then demolished and construction was begun on a new Student Union spring of 2005.

The title of the chief administrative officer was changed from president to chancellor after the merger of the state institutions of higher education. Presidents and chancellors of the institution have been: Warren Downes Parker (1875-1889), John Quincy Emery (1889-1892), John Hull (interim, 1893-1894), Warren Downes Parker (1894-1898), Warren Judson Brier (1898-1909), Howard L. Wilson (1909-1911), Jesse H. Ames (interim, 1911), James W. Crabtree (1911-1917), Jesse H. Ames (1917-1946), Eugene H. Kleinpell (1946-1967), Richard J. Delorit (interim, 1967-1968), George R. Field (1968-1985) Gary A. Thibodeau (1985-2001), Ann Lydecker (2001-2004), Virgil Nylander (2004-2005), Donald Betz (2005-2008), Connie Foster (2008-2009), and Dean Van Galen (2009-present).

Timeline

Timeline

1875 

  • State Normal School opens at River Falls to train teachers for the Northwest.
  • Dedication of first building: South Hall (now listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings).
  • Warren D. Parker named president. Serves until 1889.
  • Enrollment is 104 students in the normal and preparatory grades of the Normal School and 155 students in the grammar, intermediate and primary grades.

1889

  • J. Q. Emery named president. Serves until 1893.

1893

  • John Hull named president. Serves until 1894.

1894

  • Warren D. Parker named president. Serves until 1898.

1895

  • The Normal Badger, the first campus newspaper, is launched. By 1912 it had evolved into theMeletean annual. In 1915, the Student Voice is formally created as the campus newspaper.

1896 
Organized athletics begins with the formation of the first varsity team: baseball.

1897 

  • South Hall is destroyed by fire that breaks out at night in a chemistry laboratory. Classes continue in Thelander's Opera House and individual faculty members' homes until South Hall is rebuilt on the original foundation and reopens in 1898.

1898 

  • W. J. Brier named president. Serves until 1909.

1909

  • H. L. Wilson named president. Serves until 1911.

1911

  • Jesse H. Ames named interim president.
  • James W. Crabtree named president. Serves until 1917 and leaves the campus with 625 students, making River Falls the largest of the state's ten Normal Schools.
  • Bert E. Swenson is appointed the first athletic director for the school and is elected president of the newly created League of Wisconsin Normal Schools, with formal schedules in both football and basketball. Over the next 18 years, the teams capture 12 championships, with six undefeated seasons.

1912

  • The Department of Educational Agriculture is founded and eventually develops into a Division, School, and then College of Agriculture.

1914

  • North Hall constructed as second campus building. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings.

1917

  • Jesse H. Ames named president. Serves until 1946.

1920

  • Ramer Field purchased to serve as site of athletic activities. This Ramer Field is located at the corner of Sixth Street and Cascade Avenue

1922

  • The first Homecoming is held on November 18.

1927 

  • The Normal School begins revision of its curriculum to grant baccalaureate degrees and is renamed the River Falls Teachers College. Student enrollment is 400.

1935

  • The academic strength of the Teachers College is cited as the institution is accredited for the first time through the North Central Association.

1937

  • The Student Senate is chartered and its constitution adopted to represent student interests in campus activities.

1946 

  • Eugene H. Kleinpell named president. During his first assembly, he moves students and faculty to divide the college into divisions of humanities, social sciences, and a professional division. Kleinpell serves until 1967.

1948

  • With new directions for the college after the end of World War II, an institutional review of the educational mission leads to the adoption of general education courses to instill the precepts of liberal education.
  • The University Foundation is formed as a means to accept gifts for the college.

1951 

  • The institution is renamed as the Wisconsin State College-River Falls as a reflection of post World War II student demands for degree programs in addition to education. Enrollment stands at 649.
  • Hathorn Hall constructed as first campus residence hall.
  • Divisions of study are created: Agriculture, Education, and Arts and Sciences.

1954

  • Chalmer Davee Library constructed.

1958 

  • Stratton Hall opens as residence hall.

1959 

  • Hagestad Student Center opens.

1960 

  • The college informally adopts the motto "Where the Free Spirit Prevails."
  • The first graduate programs are offered during summer session.
  • Karges Physical Education Recreation Center opens.
  • John F. Kennedy visits campus during the presidential campaign

1961 

  • Prucha residence hall opens.

1962

  • Ames Teacher Education/Laboratory School opens to house College of Education.

1963

  • May residence hall opens.

1964

  • The college is renamed and merged into a new system as the Wisconsin State University-River Falls. Enrollment is 2,592. New heating plant constructed.

1965 

  • Excellence in teaching is celebrated as the first two faculty members are selected for The Distinguished Teacher of the year award: Benny H. Kettlelkamp of the biology department and Leland E. Wittwer of animal science.
  • Johnson residence hall is opened.

1966

  • McMillan and Grimm residence halls opens.
  • Agriculture Science Hall constructed.

1967 

  • Richard J. Delorit named interim president.

1968 

  • George R. Field named president. Serves until 1985.
  • Rodli Commons dining building opens.

1971 

  • With the merger of the University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin State Colleges System, the university is renamed as the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Enrollment is 4,255 students.

1972 

  • Kleinpell Fine Arts Building houses College of Arts and Sciences divisions of humanities and social sciences.

1973

  • Walter H. Hunt Ice Arena constructed.

1977 

  • Centennial Science Building constructed to house departments of physics, chemistry and psychology.

1985

  • Gary A. Thibodeau named chancellor.
  • Horticulture major approved.

1986 

  • Registrar Melvin Germanson is the first recipient of Chancellor's Award for Excellence.

1987

  • Robert P. Knowles Physical Education and Recreation Center constructed as health and human performance general education program building. The structure is named for UWRF graduate who went on to serve as the Wisconsin Senate Minority Leader, and then as a member of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents.
  • College of Agriculture Greenhouse I Addition constructed.

1988

  • Interdisciplinary biotechnology major approved.

1988

  • Intramural Fields developed.

1989 

  • College of Agriculture Greenhouse II Addition built.

1990

  • Rural Development Institute established to provide assistance to business and industry.

1991 

  • Student Center remodeled.

1992 

  • First Honorary degree given to astrophysicist Fang Lizhi, who served as the intellectual leader of the democracy movement in the People's Republic of China.

1993 

  • South Hall restored and rededicated.
  • Social Work program receives certification.

1994 

  • UW-River Falls Foundation assets surpass 3.5 million dollars.
  • UW System Board of Regents approves remodeling and expansion of Chalmer Davee Library.
  • The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents presents English Professor Nick Karolides its Teaching Excellence Award as the best faculty members in the 15-campus system.

1995 

  • UW System Board of Regents approved replacement of Ames Teacher Education Center.
  • Second Honorary Doctorate is awarded to U.S. Navy Capt. Daniel Brandenstein, who participated in four NASA Space Shuttle missions and retired as the Chief of the Astronaut Office, responsible for training and assigning Shuttle mission crews.
  • The National Education Association cites the College of Education as a national model for teacher education, naming it one of the 10 best programs in America.

1996 

  • UWRF initiates its massive strategic planning process, "Reach for the Future." This results in the creation of the School of Business and Economics, the merger and creation of the College of Education and Graduate Studies, and the renaming of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.
  • Dr. Lien Chen, Vice President and Premier of the Republic of China, Taiwan, and a former faculty member at UW-River Falls, is awarded the university's third honorary doctorate.

1997

  • The first bachelor's degrees are awarded in the interdisciplinary program of marketing communications, the first undergraduate program of this kind in the Midwest.
  • Two faculty members and a student are awarded prestigious Fulbright Scholarships to study and teach abroad. English Professor Marshall Toman will teach in the Czech Republic, history Professor Betty Bergland will conduct research in Norway, and student David Yunger, the second student to win this award, will study in Germany.

1998 

  • Gov. Tommy Thompson participates in the groundbreaking of the Teacher Education Center, the first building in the UW System exclusively dedicated to education in 22 years.

1999

  • Approval is granted to plan a new Dairy Teaching Center to assist in the instruction of UWRF students in animal and food sciences and for outreach education to Wisconsin's dairy industry.
  • A new Small and Family Business Development Center is launched to assist small businesses throughout the St. Croix Valley.
  • New majors are added in Dairy Science and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Language.

2000 

  • Chancellor Gary A. Thibodeau retires after a 15-year tenure and Dr. Ann M. Lydecker, the provost at Bridgewater State College, assumes the chancellorship in August.
  • During the year, the university celebrates its 125th anniversary, which culminates in a day-long ceremony in May that also includes the dedication of the new Walker W. Wyman Education Building.
  • Academically, the university launches two new academic programs: Environmental Science and a Master's of Management.
  • The Board of Regents approves planning funds for a new student center and residence hall, and campus planning begins for a new health and human performance building.

2001 

  • The university continues extensive outreach to business and industry through a series of forums on economic development issues affecting the St. Croix Valley. In support of this, the Board of Regents approves enhancing the status of the School of Business and Economics to a College of Business and Economics. Deans positions are created to attract nationally recognized experts to the College of Business and Economics and to Outreach and Graduate Studies.

2003 

  • Planning and construction for new facilities begins. Included is a child care center, student union, and residence hall.
  • UWRF receives the Wisconsin Educational Diversity Award. "I firmly believe that our higher education institutions can and must play a significant role in preparing people of color, women, and persons with disabilities for career and life success in our 21st century world," said Chancellor Lydecker in accepting the award.

2004 

  • Vice chancellor, Virgil Nylander retires following more than 30 years of service to the university.
  • Chancellor Ann Lydecker dies in a two-vehicle accident south of River Falls in March.
  • The state of Wisconsin funds a project to update campus athletic facilities. Facilities will be utilized by the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs football team during their summer training camp.
  • History professor Dr. Ed Peterson receives the distinguished teacher award while marking 50 years of teaching at UWRF.
  • President George W. Bush visits UW-River Falls during Kansas City Chiefs training camp

2005

  • Dr. Don Betz is appointed Chancellor, replacing Interim Chancellor Virgil Nylander.
  • Construction begins on new student union building.
  • The newest residence hall, George R. Field South Fork Suites, is dedicated on May 9.
  • A 12,300-square-foot addition to the Knowles Physical Education and Recreation Building will be completed in time for the Kansas City Chiefs Summer Training Camp arrival at the university on July 28.
  • Bradley Caskey, professor of psychology and associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at UW-River Falls, has been awarded the 2005 Regents Teaching Excellence Award from among the 14,000 faculty members in the UW System.

2006

  • A variety of inauguration week events starting April 23 mark the formal installation of Dr. Don Betz as the 16th chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
  • Gov. Jim Doyle selects the UW-River Falls campus as one of four UW schools that will participate in his "Off-the-Grid Initiative," which sets a goal of achieving energy independence within five years through the use of innovative energy generation methods and the purchase of "green" energy provided by local utilities without the use of fossil fuels.
  • Representatives of the UW System, the UWS Board of Regents, the state of Wisconsin, the dairy industry and UWRF students, faculty and staff celebrated the groundbreaking for the new Dairy Learning Center on Oct. 20.
  • Larry Baumann, D.V.M., professor in the department of animal and food science at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls is presented with the Veterinarian of the Year Award from the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association (WVMA).

2007

  • Events in celebration of the opening of the new University Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Jan 22-28 reflect the role the new 'green' building will play on campus, in the region and beyond.
  • University of Wisconsin-River Falls Chancellor Don Betz joins more than 250 other college and university presidents to formally commit to sharply reducing and eventually eliminating all of the university's global warming emissions.
  • U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl announces that the University of Wisconsin-River Falls is the recipient of a $460,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a sustainable agriculture project.
  • Through an historic donation, an alumna of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls ensures that generations of future students will have access to an education. A $1 million bequest - the largest gift in the 133-year history of UWRF - representing the estate of River Falls native Lucile Spriggs is dedicated exclusively to leadership scholarships.
  • The College of Business and Economics receives accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, a distinction given to fewer than 5 percent of business schools.
  • The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents holds its regular meeting Oct. 4-5 at UWRF.
  • After 15 years of planning, the $9.3 million Dairy Learning Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls is complete. A special ribbon-cutting ceremony is held in October at the Mann Valley Farm to celebrate the event.

2008

  • UW-River Falls receives the maximum 10-year accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
  • The Joanne Belifori Banks Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry is dedicated. The center is named for Banks, the 1981 UW-River Falls Distinguished Alumnus, who contributed a majority of the funds used to construct the center.
  • Agricultural Economics Professor Nate Splett is selected for the University of Wisconsin Regents Teaching Excellence Award.
  • Hudson newspaper publisher Willis Miller leaves UW-River Falls more than $1 million for student scholarships

2009

  • Dean Van Galen is selected as UW-River Falls Chancellor, replacing interim Chancellor Connie Foster.
  • The Tissue and Cellular Innovation Center opens.
  • The University Center receives the Facility Design Award of Excellence from Association of College Unions International.

2010

  • Dean Van Galen is installed as UW-River Falls' 18th Chancellor.
  • A learning center focusing primarily on undergraduate and graduate degrees for adult learners opens in Hudson.
  • Skeets Peppy, a famous sorrel quarter horse, is donated to UW-River Falls by Vaughn Zimmerman.

2011

  • A grant from OSHA leads to the creation of the Center for Dairy Farm Safety.
  • The Wisconsin in Scotland program celebrates its 25th anniversary.

2012

  • The first comprehensive fund-raising campaign in the institution's history, Rising to Distinction, is announced. Over $8 million in funds, including major gifts from Bry Wyman, Ab Nicholas, and Arlin and Marilyn Albrecht, are donated in the first months of the campaign.
  • The Ames Suites residence hall and Lydecker Living and Learning Center are dedicated.
  • The Experience China cultural immersion study abroad program is launched.