The following is the message from Chancellor Andy Leavitt from the winter 2021 issue of Titan magazine.
Welcome to 2021, the year we celebrate 150 years of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh!
Four months ago, we recognized Opening Day at UWO and launched an academic year like no other. As we prepared to safely learn, teach, research and serve amid a global pandemic, I paused to reflect on the remarkable history and limitless future of the institution. It’s not hyperbole to say this past year might qualify as UWO’s most daunting ever. However, as this University has demonstrated time and time again, its trials lead to triumphs.
UWO has experienced devastating events and defining struggles. In each case, the students and the faculty and staff members have proven resilient.
I hope you will invest in Titans’ and the University’s future. This year, we are encouraging everyone to help grow our Give 150 Fund through the UW Oshkosh Foundation. Gifts will support life-changing student scholarships and the institution’s journey into the next 150 years. Go to uwo.sh/give150 to learn more, and consider making a gift.
As you’ll read in the Titan pages that follow, UWO’s 150-year-old story of endurance suggests we will get through its latest challenge. We have learned a lot about ourselves along the way.
History wasted no time in delivering lessons. No sooner did the city of Oshkosh win the contentious campaign to land a state teacher’s college than local leaders labored to scrounge up funding necessary for our 1871 startup. (Spoiler alert: they came through).
In 1916, fire consumed “Old Main,” the only campus building. Classes moved into city churches. Only one day of instruction was lost. Dempsey Hall was constructed the very next year.
In 1918, the Spanish influenza epidemic erupted, twice shutting down the College late that year. Documentation is sparse, but we know that on Nov. 29, 1918, President H.A. Brown announced the resumption of classes after expiration of a “closing order.” He directed students to attend “the regular assembly period” the next Tuesday and asked them to “Come prepared to sing.”
World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War upheaval and the unjust expulsion of 94 black students in 1968 for their protest in the University president’s office, in their own ways, threatened the institution’s enrollment, financial stability and reputation. Yet, as you’ll read, these chapters were also crucial in making UWO a more durable, broadminded and inclusive institution.
I am proud that as this academic year advances, three campuses continue to safely deliver classroom-based, online and alternative modes of learning. We are discovering so much about ourselves as we do our part to defeat COVID-19. UWO is as determined and resilient as ever.
Here’s to 150 years! I look forward to serving and celebrating with you as we together stamp out the virus. So, keep an eye on uwosh.edu/150, and come prepared to sing!
Chancellor Andy Leavitt
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