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Excellence always

Although the name has changed throughout the years, UW-Eau Claire's commitment to excellence in higher education has remained constant. From commencement day in May 2016 through commencement day in May 2017, we celebrated our 100th anniversary. Learn about the history of this outstanding university and discover our plans for the next 100 years.

History of the University Seal

Eau Claire State Normal School (1916-1927)

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire opened its doors in the fall of 1916 as the Eau Claire State Normal School. A single building, now known as Schofield Hall, was constructed on a 12-acre site donated by the city of Eau Claire. With a student body of 159 and a faculty of 20, the school offered one- and two-year elementary and three-year secondary teachers' courses, and a principal's course. Although the education of teachers was the mission of the institution, from the beginning it made available two years of general education or pre-professional study for persons not expecting to teach. Harvey A. Schofield was the first president of the new school, and his leadership saw it through the first 25 critical years of its existence.

Eau Claire State Teachers College (1927-1951)

In 1927, our name changed from Eau Claire State Normal School to Eau Claire State Teachers College, with authorization to offer four years of higher education and to grant the degree of bachelor of education. In the same year, Eau Claire State Teachers College was accredited by the American Association of Teachers Colleges. In 1937 it was authorized to grant the bachelor of science in education degree. In 1946, 20 acres atop the bluff overlooking the campus were acquired to provide for future physical education facilities. This was the first substantial increase in campus size since the founding of the school. The 1940s also were marked by the institution of programs of orientation for freshmen, the inauguration of the faculty advisement system for upperclassmen, and the advancement of teacher education and extension services. The adoption by the faculty of a philosophy of general education paved the way for accreditation by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools in 1950.

Wisconsin State College at Eau Claire (1951-1964)

In 1951, the Board of Regents authorized the college to grant bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees in liberal arts, and the official name of the college became Wisconsin State College at Eau Claire. A degree program in medical technology began in 1955; teacher education programs were augmented in 1958 by courses for the training of teachers of special education and by specialization in junior high school and business education. In 1952, a complex of four buildings — campus laboratory school, little theater, education building and field house — was completed, marking the first major campus development since the construction of the original building. Expansion of the college campus was made possible through the gift from the city of Eau Claire of the 200-acre Putnam Park, and the purchase of 23 additional acres for the upper campus in 1958.

Wisconsin State University-Eau Claire (1964-1971)

In June 1964, the Board of Regents gave university standing to the state colleges, and the institution at Eau Claire was renamed Wisconsin State University-Eau Claire. Three schools within the university structure were created in 1964: Arts and Sciences, Education and Graduate Studies. In 1965 the School of Nursing was formed, and in 1966 the School of Business. Under President Leonard Haas's leadership, a $50 million building program was realized. Seven additional residence halls, including the 1,242-bed Towers Hall, and two food and recreational centers — Crest Commons and Hilltop Center — increased the amenities of student life and created an upper campus. The W.R. Davies University Center, built in 1959, was doubled in size in 1964. The L.E. Phillips Science Hall was opened in 1964 and expanded in 1968-69. Schneider Social Science Hall was occupied in 1967, the McPhee Physical Education Center and School of Nursing Building in 1969, and the Fine Arts Building in 1970. A six-story addition to the W.D. McIntyre Library was completed in 1971.

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (1971-present)

With the merger of the Wisconsin State University System and the University of Wisconsin System, completed in 1971, the name of the institution was changed to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. A new academic building, the Richard E. Hibbard Humanities Hall, opened in 1974. In 1977, construction on a major addition to Davies Center was completed. In 1982, the Allied Health and Clinical Services Building on the north bank of the Chippewa River was completed. Construction of an addition to the Nursing Building was begun. The addition opened for occupancy in the summer of 1985. In recent years, the lower campus was transformed by the construction of the new W.R. Davies Student Center, completed in 2012, and Centennial Hall, completed in late 2013 and occupied in early 2014. The Davies Center construction is funded entirely by student fees and replaced a beloved building that was in need of extensive renovation. It represents a commitment to student success and sustainability. Centennial Hall is home to the College of Education and Human Sciences; the departments of education for equity and justice, English, languages and special education and inclusive practices; and many support services for students. It marked the first major campus construction funded entirely by state dollars in 30 years.

Our leaders

Picture of Schofield Hall taken from the Eau Claire Photo Archive

Past leaders who shaped UW-Eau Claire

Many great leaders have shaped the foundation of our university. Read about the previous chancellors of UW-Eau Claire.

Learn about past chancellors