UW-Platteville History


The University of Wisconsin-Platteville is celebrating its Sesquicentennial during 2016, marking the 150th anniversary of its founding.

UW-Platteville began in 1866 as the first state teacher preparation institution in Wisconsin, then called the Platteville Normal School. Classes were held in Rountree Hall, located at the corner of Main and Elm streets. Rountree Hall was actually built 13 years earlier in 1853 to accommodate the rapidly increasing enrollment of the Platteville Academy, founded in 1839 (even before Wisconsin's statehood) by the city's Presbyterian Church.

The university also has roots in the Wisconsin Mining Trade School, established in 1907 to train specialized technicians to work in the mining operations surrounding Platteville. When the Normal School vacated Rountree Hall for its new quarters in Main Hall, the mining school moved in. In 1917, a third year was added to the curriculum, making the Wisconsin Mining School the first school in the United States to offer a three-year course in mining engineering, upon completion of which a student received a diploma.

One of the university's oldest traditions originated in the year 1936 when the mining school students began work on the world’s largest “M" by placing rocks in a pattern on the southwest slope of the mound, located a few miles east of the city. Completed the following year, the "M" measures 214 x 241 feet and consists of some 400 tons of whitewashed stone. The lighting of the "M" is now a tradition at UW-Platteville and is the featured ceremony each fall during Homecoming weekend.

The mining school became the Wisconsin Institute of Technology in 1939 and later merged with the Platteville State Teachers College in 1959 to become the Wisconsin State College and Institute of Technology at Platteville.

During the 1960s, the college experienced a period of rapid growth resulting in the construction of several new halls. In 1966, the name was changed again to the Wisconsin State University-Platteville. The university and all other public institutions of higher education in Wisconsin merged in 1971 to form the UW System, governed by a single Board of Regents. As a result of the merger, the university experienced its most recent name change to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

UW-Platteville is the fastest-growing university in the UW System. From 2004 to 2013, total enrollment experienced a record increase of nearly 40 percent, from 6,192 to 8,662 students. Today, enrollment growth is still strong, with 8,697 undergraduate and graduate students. The university offers 41 majors and 78 minors in academic programs across three colleges: Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture (BILSA), Engineering, Mathematics and Science (EMS), and Liberal Arts and Education (LAE).

UW-Platteville encompasses 821 aces, including a 400-acre education and research farm, 20 academic and student services buildings and 13 residence halls.

With Rountree Commons opening in 2012 and Bridgeway Commons in 2013, residence hall capacity is now over 3,700, giving all first- and second-year students the opportunity to live on campus and take advantage of the more than 200 clubs and organizations. 

The university survived a tornado, which struck campus on June 16, 2014, significantly damaging three residence halls, Engineering Hall, the greenhouse, Pioneer Stadium and Memorial Park. Behind the Pioneer spirit, the university pulled together and readied campus for occupancy in the fall, ensuring the outstanding tradition of high quality and affordable education continued uninterrupted.

UWP: About UW-Platteville

About UW-Platteville
  • Founded: 1866
  • Campus: 821 acres
    • 400-acre education/research farm
    • 20 academic/services buildings
    • 12 residence halls
  • Undergraduate programs:
    • 41 Majors
    • 78 Minors
    • 17 Pre-Professional
  • Graduate programs: 3
  • Distance education:
    • 2 undergraduate
    • 6 graduate

  • Total enrollment: 8,967*+
    • Undergraduate: 8,002
    • Graduate: 965
  • Student/faculty ratio: 21:1
  • Average class size: 25
  • Faculty (no teaching assistants): 417
  • Student clubs and organizations: 200+

*includes Distance Education students
+2015-16 10th Day Enrollment Statistics

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