The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Wisconsin, University of
WISCONSIN, University of, the State university located at Madison, Wis. As early as 1836 the legislature of the Territory then known as Wisconsin passed an act for the establishment of “Wisconsin University” at Belmont, now in the State of Iowa, but the institution was never organized; again in 1838 a law was passed for the establishment of the “University of the Territory of Wisconsin,” a board of visitors was appointed and the national endowment of two townships of land received. Nothing further was done, however, until 1848, when the State constitution provided for the establishment of a State university, and the university was incorporated by act of the legislature. A preparatory department was opened in 1849 and the collegiate department in 1850. In 1854 a second grant of two townships of land was made by Congress; but this land as well as that of the first grant was sold at very low prices to attract settlers, and the income derived from the fund was meagre; no State appropriation was made till 1870. In 1858 the university was reorganized, the work of the preparatory department restricted and collegiate department organized in six schools. During the War of Secession a large number of students entered the army, and though the work of the university was not suspended, no commencement was held in 1864. Since the war the progress of the university has been continuous. In 1866 a reorganization was effected. The Federal grant under the “Morrill Act” for the establishment of colleges of agriculture and industrial arts was given to the university. Colleges of agriculture and engineering were then established as integral parts of the university. Women, who had been admitted since 1863 to a “normal” department, were given the opportunity to follow a regular collegiate course. At this time, however, the coeducational system was not complete as the work of the women was kept separate from that of the men; but a few years later complete coeducation was established. In 1873 the legislature appropriated $10,000 a year to the university; in 1876 an annual 10th of a mill tax was appropriated; in 1883 and 1891 other mill taxes were added; in 1899 all mill taxes were consolidated with a grant of 1 per cent of the railroad licenses into a specific annual grant, which was increased in 1901 and again in 1903. The total income from all sources was $3,532,305.64 in 1918-19. At the time of the first annual grant of $10,000 a system of free tuition to graduates of high schools in the State was adopted, which led to the elimination of the preparatory department a few years later. This also resulted in making the university the actual head of the public school system of the State.
Since 1892 the university has extended its work in all directions; a number of special courses have been added, particular emphasis has been laid on graduate work and the number of graduate students increased. The university now includes the following colleges and schools: (1) the College of Letters and Science; (2) the College of Mechanics and Engineering; (3) the College of Law; (4) the College of Agriculture; (5) the Graduate School. It also conducts a summer school and a university extension department. The College of Letters and Science includes besides the general departments of instruction in arts and sciences, the several special departments as follows: The courses in chemistry, commerce, journalism and pharmacy, the School of Music, the Medical School, the Library School, the School of Education, the normal graduates' course and the Washburn Observatory. The degrees of A.B. and Ph.B. (general course) are conferred upon the graduates of the College of Letters and Science, except in the chemistry, medical and pharmacy courses which lead to the B.S. degree, and the normal graduates' course, leading to the degree of Ph.B. (course for normal-school graduates). For the degree of Ph.B. (general course), special emphasis is placed on mathematics, philosophy and science; for the A.B. degree, the work is largely elective. In the freshman year, an English course is required and during this year the other studies are are elected from two groups, (1) language, (2) mathematics, science and history. Certain minima in these groups must be offered, the total covering somewhat less than two years' work. Not later than the beginning of the junior year a major subject in some one department must be elected and the remainder of the work is free electives. A limited amount of elective work may be taken in the colleges of Engineering and Agriculture, in the School of Music or in the special courses of the College of Letters and Science. A special two years' course is arranged for normal-school graduates, for completion of which the degree of Ph.B. (course for normal-school graduates) is conferred. The special courses in pharmacy cover four years, leading to the degree of B.S., or two years, leading to the degree of graduate in pharmacy. The College of Engineering was organized in 1870; it offers five four-year courses, leading to the degree of B.S.; these are in chemical, civil, electrical, mechanical and mining engineering. The above courses may be taken as five-year courses with the B.S. degree; this allows more elective work in the other colleges. By proper arrangement of elective studies, students in the College of Letters and Science secure the A.B. degree at the end of four years and the B.S. degree in engineering in two additional years. The College of Agriculture offers a “long course” and a home economic course of four years, leading to the degree of B.S., a short course of two years, winter and summer dairy courses and a farmers' winter course; this college also includes the agricultural experiment station and the organization of farmers' institutes. The College of Law was established in 1868; it offers a three-years' course, leading to the degree of LL.B. The Graduate School received its present organization in 1895. It includes work in the College of Letters and Science, the College of Engineering and the College of Agriculture, courses especially for graduate work being offered in each department of these colleges; the school as a whole is under the control of a faculty committee. The degrees conferred are A.M., M.S.. M.Ph., Ph.D., C.E., E.E., M.E., Ch. E. and Min. E. The Summer School offers courses in the subjects of the general college curriculum, in education, in gymnastics and a special normal course; it also includes a summer school in shop and laboratory work for mechanics. Tuition in the university is free to Wisconsin students. There are 115 scholarships for undergraduates and 15 student loan funds; there are also 43 fellowships, 24 honorary fellowships and 36 graduate scholarships, most of which are in special departments in the various colleges of the university. In addition, legislative scholarships are granted to the extent of 8 per cent of the nonresident enrolment of the previous year.
Gymnasium work and military drills are required of men students during part of the course, and gymnasium work of women students. There is also ample provision for athletic sports, which are under the general control of an athletic council, on which faculty, alumni and students are represented. The University of Wisconsin is the only institution of the kind in the West which has a boat crew. The women students have organized an athletic association. The students maintain four men's literary societies and two women's societies; three of the men's societies are in the College of Letters and Science and one is in the College of Agriculture. The men's societies have organized a forensic board which selects debaters for intercollegiate contests. Two of the men's societies and one women's society were organized in the early days of the university and have always had a prominent part in student life. There are also a science club, Sigma Xi, composed of faculty members and graduate students, four dramatic societies and innumerable other student associations, a Woman's Self-Government Association and chapters of Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi (engineering). There are several other honorary and professional fraternities in agriculture, commerce and economics, chemistry, engineering, medicine, debating, law, journalism and home economics. The university campus contains about 450 acres, bordering on the south shore of Lake Mendota; in the eastern part of the grounds the land rises abruptly in two hills, of which the eastern and higher is known as University Hill. On this hill are most of the college buildings; the Washburn Observatory stands on the western hill, which is known as Observatory Hill; farther west is the farm with its barns and buildings; to the east of University Hill is the lower campus, used largely for athletic sports; the State Historical Society Library building, containing the libraries of the society and the university, also stands at the western end of this campus. Among the prominent buildings on and near the University Hill are north hall, south hall, biology building, chemistry building, law building, physics-economics building and university hall, Chadbourne hall, Barnard hall, Lathrop hall, music hall, science hall and the engineering building; on and near Observatory Hill are the Hiram Smith hall (dairy), horticultural building, agricultural hall, home economics-extension building, the infirmary, stock pavilion, soils building, agricultural engineering building, agricultural chemistry building; and agronomy building. The university library in 1919 contained 263,000 volumes, in addition to which there are departmental libraries, the State historical library and legislative reference library open to students. Thus there are about 581,000 volumes and 308.000 pamphlets accessible for the purposes of the university. The collection is particularly strong in American and English history, Greek, political and social science, Shakespeare and the publications of American learned societies. The students in 1916-17, the last normal year before the war, numbered 5,318, of whom 3,417 were in the College of Letters and Science, 657 in the College of Engineering and 929 in the College of Agriculture. In 1918-19 there were 4,173 students, with 2,884 in the College of Letters and Science, 599 in the College of Engineering, and 531 in the College of Agriculture. Including the Students' Army Training Corps, the total enrolment was 5,274. The University of Wisconsin ranks among the first of the State universities both in numbers and in standard of scholarship.