Warhawk Almanac: Arthur Upham

Summer, with so few students on campus, is a convenient time to complete campus renovation projects. Upgrading the Upham Hall Greenhouse is one such renovation project happening on campus this summer. The building is named for Arthur Aquila Upham, an important figure who played a number of key roles in the early history of the Whitewater Normal School as well as the city of Whitewater. 

Inside Upham Hall Greenhouse

Arthur Upham taught physics, which was his specialty, in addition to a variety of other classes including chemistry, carpentry, agriculture, zoology, geology, and biology during his tenure at the Whitewater Normal School from 1888 – 1922.[1] Professor Upham believed in hands-on learning and since “science laboratory equipment was virtually nonexistent in any school in Wisconsin” at this time, he taught his students to build their own laboratory equipment.[2] He even brought in his own horse Nancy to his Elements of Agriculture class to provide his students with first-hand experience.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Upham was involved with numerous other campus activities. He established a bird watching club, wrote a number of textbooks, including An Introduction to Agriculture in 1910, and served as the first Vice President of the school from 1919-1922. To the students on campus, Arthur Upham was affectionately known as “Daddy” due to his amiable and fatherly nature.[3] 

Arthur Upham (holding mortar and pestle) with science class

Outside of the Normal School, Upham was an active member of the Whitewater community. He served as the superintendent of Whitewater schools from 1895 to 1900, was appointed mayor of the city from 1909 to 1911, acted as master of the Masonic Lodge, served as chairman of the state board of examiners, was actively involved with the congregational church, and fulfilled a number of public speaking engagements.[4] Upon his death in November 1927, a tribute to Upham in the Whitewater Register read that, “few men are loved as he has been.”[5]

Exterior of Upham Hall

Due to the increase in student enrollment during the 1960s, the campus was experiencing a classroom shortage.[6] It is no surprise that when a building dedicated to the sciences was constructed on campus to help alleviate this shortage, it would be named in honor of Professor Arthur Upham. Upham Hall officially opened for the fall semester in 1963 and the greenhouse was added to the building in 1980. Today, Upham Hall continues to honor Arthur Upham’s legacy on campus as the home to the physics, chemistry, biology, and geography, geology, and environmental science departments.

[1]  Richard Carlton Haney, Campus Cornerstones, University of Wisconsin – Whitewater: Biographical Sketches of the People for Whom Buildings & Facilities are Named, (Whitewater, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, 1997), 99.

[2] Haney, Campus Cornerstones, 98.

[3] Haney, Campus Cornerstones, 98.

[4] “Funeral of Arthur A. Upham at Church on Tuesday Afternoon,” Whitewater Register, November 24, 1927. https://irvinlyoung.advantage-preservation.com/viewer/?k=%22upham%22&i=f&by=1927&bdd=1920&d=01011927-12311927&m=between&ord=k1&fn=the_whitewater_press_usa_wisconsin_whitewater_19271124_english_1&df=1&dt=10; Haney, Campus Cornerstones, 99. 

[5]  “A Tribute,” Whitewater Register, November 24, 1927. https://irvinlyoung.advantage-preservation.com/viewer/?k=%22upham%22&i=f&by=1927&bdd=1920&d=01011927-12311927&m=between&ord=k1&fn=the_whitewater_press_usa_wisconsin_whitewater_19271124_english_1&df=1&dt=10.

[6]  “Science Equipment Moved as Science Hall Nears Completion,” The Royal Purple, June 18, 1963. https://www.jstor.org/stable/community.32934856.

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