Year UW-Madison was Founded
The university traces its roots to a clause in the Wisconsin Constitution, which decreed that the state should have a prominent public university. In 1848, Nelson Dewey, Wisconsin’s first governor, signed the act that formally created the university, and its first class, with 17 students, met in a Madison school building on February 5, 1849. From those humble beginnings, the university has grown into a large, diverse community, with about 42,000 students enrolled each year. These students represent every state in the nation, as well as countries from around the globe, making for a truly international population.