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History of UW Oshkosh

Since the University’s inception as a teacher-training school in 1871 to its stature today as a premier comprehensive institution, quality and innovative higher education have been hallmarks of UW Oshkosh’s success.

In the early years, the Oshkosh State Normal School was Wisconsin’s foremost institution for educating teachers and the first such 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. Tuition was free to all who declared their intention to teach in Wisconsin public schools. In 1916, fire destroyed the main campus building; Dempsey Hall replaced it in 1918.

As the educational focus evolved and expanded, the institution underwent several name changes to the Oshkosh State Teachers College in 1927 and the Wisconsin State College Oshkosh in 1951. A graduate school was added in 1963, transforming the one-time normal school into a fully developed university.

In its centennial year of 1971, the institution merged into the Wisconsin system and became the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Innovations — such as a new academic calendar with 14-week semesters and three-week interim sessions and a Faculty Development Program — followed when Chancellor Robert Birnbaum arrived in 1974.

UW Oshkosh’s academic excellence continued to gain recognition under the leadership of chancellors Edward M. Penson, John E. Kerrigan and Richard H. Wells. New programs, institutes and degrees have kept the curriculum relevant, while building expansions, renovations and additions are evidence of the institution’s continued growth.

Today, led by Chancellor Andrew J. Leavitt, UW Oshkosh proudly serves the region as the third-largest university in Wisconsin with an annual on- and off-campus enrollment of nearly 14,000. Recent key campus initiatives include a commitment to sustainability and the ideals of a liberal education across the curriculum.

With a strong research focus and national ranking in sustainability, Titans demonstrate on a daily basis what students can do to change the world.

UW Oshkosh offers nearly 200 majors, minors and emphases, in addition to 15 graduate programs and two doctoral programs. UW Oshkosh is your place to find your path, grow your world and learn to lead.

In addition to academic programs that meet 21st century needs, students explore broad subjects through our nationally recognized general education curriculum that celebrates inclusive excellence, fuels imagination and champions critical thinking.

Student success is at the heart of all that we do. Titans get the encouragement they need to thrive. Students in our undergraduate, graduate and online degree programs benefit from personalized support–with small class sizes, a wealth of writing, math and student support services, and personalized career and academic advising.

UW Oshkosh is part of the robust University of Wisconsin System—one of the largest systems of public higher education in the country. As a member of the System, UW Oshkosh provides students with state-wide resources and ensures top academic quality and accountability.

Situated in the heart of the Fox Valley, UW Oshkosh has the “opportunity of place.” From internship and career opportunities to the wealth of entertainment and recreational opportunities, Oshkosh and the surrounding area have a lot to offer.

See for yourself what a Titan can do.


Contact Us

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
800 Algoma Blvd.
Oshkosh, WI 54904
  (920) 424-1234


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