Chancellors and Presidents of the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Twenty-eight individuals have served as chief executive of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. They are listed below.

See Presidents of the University of Wisconsin System for information on the leaders of UW System, beginning in 1971.

John Bascom (S10911)

John Bascom (S10911)

George Sellery (S05583)

George Sellery (S05583)

William Sewell (S02278)

William Sewell (S02278)

Donna Shalala (S13657)

Donna Shalala (S13657)

Lathrop, John Hiram (Chancellor: 1849-1858) Harrington, Fred Harvey (President: 1962-1970)
Barnard, Henry (Chancellor: 1859-1860) Clodius, Robert LeRoy (Acting Provost: 1963-1964)
Sterling, John Whelan (Executive Officer: 1861-1867) Fleming, Robben Wright (Provost then Chancellor: 1964-1967)
Chadbourne, Paul Ansel (President: 1867-1870) Sewell, William Hamilton (Chancellor: 1967-1968)
Twombly, John Hanson (President: 1871-1874) Kearl, Bryant Eastham (Acting Chancellor: 1968)
Bascom, John A. (President: 1874-1887) Young, Hugh Edwin (Chancellor: 1968-1977)
Chamberlin, Thomas Chrowder (President: 1887-1892) Pound, Glenn Simpson (Acting Chancellor: 1977)
Adams, Charles Kendall (President: 1892-1901) Shain, Irving (Chancellor: 1977-1986)
Birge, Edward Asahel (Acting President: 1900-1903) Cohen, Bernard Cecil (Acting Chancellor: 1987)
Van Hise, Charles Richard (President: 1903-1918) Shalala, Donna Edna (Chancellor: 1988-1993)
Birge, Edward Asahel (President: 1918-1925) Ward, David (Chancellor: 1993-2000)
Frank, Glenn (President: 1925-1937) Wiley, John Duncan (Chancellor: 2001-2008)
Sellery, George Clark (Acting President: 1937) Martin, Carolyn Arthur “Biddy” (Chancellor (2008-2011)
Dykstra, Clarence Addison (President: 1937-1945) Ward, David (Interim Chancellor: 2011-2013)
Fred, Edwin Broun (President: 1945-1958) Blank, Rebecca M. (Chancellor, 2013- )
Elvehjem, Conrad Arnold (President: 1958-1962)

Administrative History

Extension Engineering group (S14139)

Extension Engineering group (S14139)

From its founding in 1848 until 1955, there was only one campus of the University of Wisconsin. During the first half of the twentieth-century, however, the University taught extension courses in cities throughout the state and had varying numbers of extension centers run by the University Extension Division. The state of Wisconsin also had a separate system of state Normal Schools (later Teachers Colleges then Wisconsin State Colleges then Wisconsin State Universities).

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

In 1955 the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee was created by merging the University of Wisconsin Extension Center in Milwaukee with the Wisconsin State College in Milwaukee (the law creating the new campus was passed in 1955; the first classes were held in the fall of 1956). UW-M, as it quickly became known, had a provost as chief academic officer.

Centralized Administration and New Campuses

In 1963/64 President Harrington decided that the University of Wisconsin had grown too large for its management structure and needed a central administration plus administrations for the campuses at Madison, Milwaukee, and the University Centers (two-year colleges which were outgrowths of the extension centers, now called UW Colleges).

Fred Harrington (S00046)

Fred Harrington (S00046)

There were nine University Centers at this time, and this restructuring removed them from extension and provided one chancellor for the combined centers. The people in charge of the three campuses were originally called provosts, which was the title already in place at Milwaukee, but in 1965 their titles were changed to chancellor.

The actual distinctions between the central administration and the individual campus administrations remained murky for some time. In January 1965, the three provosts Robben Fleming (Madison), J. Martin Klotsche (Milwaukee), and Lorenz Adolfson (University Centers) were made chancellors of their respective campuses. In 1969 the four-year campuses of the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay and Parkside (Racine/Kenosha area) were created.

University of Wisconsin System Merger

In 1971, after long years of trying and much controversy, the legislature created the University of Wisconsin System by combining the University of Wisconsin (Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Parkside, University Centers, and Extension) with the nine Wisconsin State Universities (Eau Claire, La Crosse, Oshkosh, Platteville, River Falls, Stevens Point, Stout, Superior, and Whitewater). The merger was not completed until 1974, but from 1971 on there was a president of the University of Wisconsin System and chancellors for the individual campuses. UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee are the only Ph.D. granting institutions in the system.

Resources

The University Archives contains records from the administrations of all of the chancellors/presidents through David Ward, except for John Lathrop, Henry Barnard, and John Twombly.

The Archives includes oral history interviews with E. B. Fred, Fred Harrington, Robert Clodius, Robben Fleming, William Sewell, Bryant Kearl, Edwin Young, Glenn Pound, Irving Shain, Bernard Cohen, Donna Shalala, David Ward, and John Wiley.

Chancellor Edwin Young presents President Emeritus E. B. Fred with a 90th birthday cake, March 3rd 1977 (S07990)

Chancellor Edwin Young presents President Emeritus E. B. Fred with a 90th birthday cake, March 3rd 1977 (S07990)

In addition the Archives contains general subject files from the Chancellor’s Office and many other materials related to the chancellors and presidents.

Images are from the University Archives and Records Management Services photography collection. Photographs of John Wiley and Biddy Martin appear courtesy of University Communications.

Sources used include: The University of Wisconsin: A History (vols. 1 & 2 by Merle Curti and Vernon Carstensen, vols. 3 & 4 by E. David Cronon and John W. Jenkins), Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1949-1999, available electronically through the University of Wisconsin Collection (click on Search only the full text); Arthur Hove, The University of Wisconsin: A Pictorial History, Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1991; J. F. A. Pyre, Wisconsin, New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1920.

See Presidents of the University of Wisconsin System for information on the leaders of UW System, beginning in 1971.

by David Null, University Archivist