Warhawk Almanac: Becoming a University

            Although we now know the University as the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, it has not always been called so. The University has been through three different name changes since its establishment. The second name change passed in early 1964. The change from Wisconsin State College – Whitewater to Wisconsin State University – Whitewater became effective July 1, 1964.[1] The University would hold this name until 1971 when the University of Wisconsin System was created.[2]

Whitewater State College sign
Anderson Library Archives and Area Research, Anderson Library, University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, Whitewater, WI.

            Developing graduate programs sparked the change from college to university. The first graduate session offered at Whitewater was in the summer of 1960. Thirty-two students enrolled that summer and by 1962 the number had doubled. Whitewater partnered with the University of Wisconsin in the beginning to get the graduate program up and running. Students would earn their first 12 credits at Whitewater and the last 12 credits at Madison. By 1962, the summer graduate sessions had enough students for Whitewater to be able to start their own independent graduate program.[3]

Whitewater State University sign
Student Council presidents try out the University’s new name. Royal Purple (Whitewater: University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, July 7, 1964), 1.

            A Change of Name Observance to mark the new school name change took place on July 1, 1964 at Roseman Auditorium.[4] Over 150 faculty, staff, and students attended the ceremonies to hear Dr. Leslie Holmes speak. Dr. Holmes was president of Northern Illinois University and spoke on the opportunities the change from college to university would bring including the chance to grow the graduate programs.[5] President Walker D. Wyman and Vice President Richard Brown also spoke on behalf of the University among many other speakers.

            On what was referred to as “the hill” stood the formal sign for the school. The week prior to the Change of Name Observance ceremony, acting student council president Arlan Anderson and Ilene Larson covered the word “college” with “university” to test out the new name. The sign with the updated name was put up during the ceremony on July 1st.[6]


[1] “Ceremonies Mark Name Change,” The Whitewater Register (Whitewater, WI) July 9, 1964.

[2] “Make Campus Name Change,” The Whitewater Register (Whitewater, WI) November 4, 1971.

[3] M. Janette Bohi, A History of Wisconsin State University 1868-1968 (Whitewater, WI: Wisconsin State University Foundation, 1067, 206.

[4] “Ceremonies Mark Change of Name,” Royal Purple (Whitewater, WI) July 7, 1964.

[5] “Ceremonies Mark Name Change,” The Whitewater Register (Whitewater, WI) July 9, 1964.

[6]  “Ceremonies Mark Change of Name,” Royal Purple (Whitewater, WI) July 7, 1964.

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