Chancellor's Office History

In the Jan. 5, 1876 edition of The Advocate, a newspaper in Lancaster, a history of the town of Platteville was written to the editor. It said, “In the winter of 1826-7 among the people of Southeastern Missouri and Southwestern Illinois, considerable excitement prevailed, caused by reports of the discovery of rich lead mines in the vicinity of Fever River, then called the ‘Upper Missouri Mines.’” It continued that the news led to a migration of “enterprising young men” into the area. As people poured in, lead ore was found on what is called the east ridge within the limits of the now village of Platteville. The lead was believed to have surfaced and become visible when a badger dug into the bluff to make its nest. The article adds that a man with the last name of Metcalf, sold his prospect to Major John Hawkins Rountree and Major James B. Campbell. Several years ahead, in 1839, nine years before Wisconsin became a state, Platteville Academy, now the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, opened its doors.

Josiah Pickard

Josiah Pickard

Principal: 1846-1859
Platteville Academy

“During Pickard’s 13-year tenure, he transformed the struggling academy into one of the most respected teacher-training institutions of higher education in Wisconsin,” said James Hibbard, UW-Platteville archivist. “Pickard’s leadership led to a new, larger academy building, which opened in 1853 and to a greater extent, laid the groundwork for the Platteville Academy becoming the first State Normal School in 1866.”

Charles Allen

Charles H. Allen

Principal/President: 1866-1870
Platteville State Normal School

The Exponent reported in an April 1960 issue that Allen received a $2,000 salary when he was hired as principal for Platteville Academy. When the academy ceased operation, Allen presided at the opening of Platteville’s State Normal School. The school had five faculty, including Allen, and 219 students during its first year of operation. Under his tenure, the south wing of the Normal School’s building was added in 1868 and General Ulysses S. Grant attended its dedication ceremonies in September.

Edwin Charlton

Edwin A. Charlton

Principal: 1870-1879
Platteville State Normal School

Hibbard said that it is highly probable that when Edwin A. Charlton assumed leadership of the Normal School in 1870, he arrived by railroad. The line had just opened service to Platteville on July 4 and Charlton arrived in September. In an April 1960 issue of the Exponent, an article said about his accomplishments, “Departments were added and split to give more concise study, a museum was started, an addition to the academy building was made and the 40-week school year was split into three parts.” Charlton also holds the distinction of having the first telephone in his office in Platteville in May of 1878. The telephone line stretched from Charlton’s office to J.H. Evan’s store.

Duncan McGregor


President: 1879-1894 and 1897-1904
Platteville State Normal School

Duncan McGregor was born in Forest of Clunie, Parish Clunie, in Perthshire, Scotland. He and his family came to America in June of 1857. In October of 1889, during his first period of service as president of the Normal School, the first issue of the The Normal Exponent was published. He also justified enlarging the Normal School building through the significantly increased student population. He is the only president to serve twice and he also served as a captain during the Civil War.

James Chalmers


President: 1894-1897
Platteville State Normal School

Chalmers, who came from Canada, not only served as president of the Normal School, but also served as a pastor of the Congregational Church in Elgin, Ill., as well as in Fitchburg, Mass. During his time in Platteville, he implemented new Board of Regents curriculum changes and also established closer relations with the public university in Madison, now UW-Madison. In 1896, the senior class issued the first yearbook named “The Bone of Contention.” Chalmers left Platteville to teach at Columbia University in New York and also with Boston University.

John Livingston


President: 1904-1909
Platteville State Normal School; State Teachers College – Platteville

The dedication to Livingston in the 1909 Pioneer, the year of his retirement, reads, “He had an intense interest in the individual student, and was satisfied only when each one was making the best use of time and opportunity.” During his service, Livingston partnered with McGregor, then a member of the Board of Regents, to complete the Main Building. The new Main Building, at a cost of $150,000, opened its doors for the fall 1907 classes. According to the Pioneer, Livingston’s interests in nature and art were reflected on campus and in the buildings.


President: 1908
Wisconsin Mining Trade School

The resurgence of mining in Southwest Wisconsin created a need for an institution that would educate mining engineers,” said Hibbard. “Platteville was the obvious place to locate such a school, because it was located in the heart of the zinc mining region.” The Wisconsin Mining Trade School opened in 1908 with Brinsmade at the helm with five faculty and 11 students.


President: 1908-1910
Wisconsin Mining Trade School

Prior to serving as president of the Mining School, George worked as superintendent of the Columbia Lead and Zinc Mining Company in Platteville. According to Thomas B. Lundeen’s Jubilee book on the history of the UW-Platteville College of Engineering, George decided to resign in 1910 in order to return to professional engineering work in the area, but continued to teach about his specialty in Mining School classes when needed.

William Sutherland


President: 1909-1915 
State Normal School

“Under Sutherland’s leadership, the Normal School began to emphasize rural education,” said Hibbard. “In 1914, Platteville began to offer one- and two-year courses for future country school teachers. That same year, the Normal School purchased three acres of land for agricultural purposes and the department of agriculture was established.”

Ralph Davis


President: 1910-1920
Wisconsin Mining Trade School; Wisconsin Mining School

Under Davis, The Miner yearbook was first published in 1915 and in the 1918 edition, it was reported that 34 men, including both graduates and students, were away from home, either in the United States or France, serving in World War I. “In the fall of 1918, both the Normal School and Mining School participated in the U.S. War Department’s Students’ Army Training Corps, similar to the ROTC,” said Hibbard. “The SATC students used both the Mining School’s building and the Normal School’s new Agricultural-Manual Arts building as their barracks.” According to Hibbard, the SATC disbanded shortly after World War I ended.

Asa Royce


President: 1916-1942
State Normal School; Platteville State Teachers College

In 1916, the State Normal School celebrated its 50th anniversary and construction began on Ullrich Hall, then the agriculture and manual arts building. “In 1927, when the school changed its name to Platteville State Teachers College, it could, for the first time, award bachelor’s degrees,” said Hibbard. In 1942, towards the end of Royce’s tenure, the Industrial Arts Building, now known as the Art Building, was completed. In addition, a 125-acre farm was purchased in connection with the agriculture program and picnic grounds, a health center, tennis courts and football field were added.

Homer Morrow


President: 1920-1941
Wisconsin Mining Trade School; Wisconsin Institute of Technology

During Homer Morrow’s 21-year tenure as president of the mining school, students received permission from William Snow to create the “M” on the southwest slope of a mound on his land a few miles east of the city. Completed in 1937, the “M” measured 214 by 241 feet and consisted of about 400 tons of whitewashed stone. A later owner, L.R. Clausen of Racine, gifted the 90 acres of land to the school. The lighting of the “M” continues to be a tradition for Platteville’s Homecoming weekend and the spring “M-Ball.” Also in 1935, the school enrolled two female students, Fay Bible and Nancy Morrow, who graduated in 1938.

Milton Melcher


President: 1941-1959
Wisconsin Institute of Technology

Milton Melcher began his career at the Mining School in 1923 as a geology instructor before assuming the role of president in 1941. In 1952, the institution received permission to officially award bachelor’s degrees. Melcher served for 18 years and was the final president of the Mining School. According to Hibbard, he played a pivotal role in the merger between the Wisconsin State College at Platteville and the Institute of Technology – a merger that formed the Wisconsin State College and Institute of Technology at Platteville in 1959.

Chester Newlun


President: 1943-1958
Platteville State Teachers College; Wisconsin State College

When Newlun came to campus, World War II had caused enrollment to drop to 500 students and by the end of the war, it was at 200, but by the time he retired, it had jumped to around 1,100 students. Underneath his photo, the 1958 Pioneer yearbook reads, “During his 15 years at the helm, President Newlun has worked long and hard for the structural and scholastic growth of our college. As a result, the college is presently undergoing the greatest expansion in its history.” Doudna Hall was added in 1954 and Royce Hall in 1957. Construction had also begun on the student center the year before his retirement.

Bjarne Ullsvik


Chancellor: 1958-1975
Wisconsin State College and Institute of Technology; Wisconsin State University-Platteville; University of Wisconsin-Platteville

Ullsvik oversaw the opening of the Student Center in 1959 as well as the merger between the Wisconsin State College and Institute of Technology that formed Wisconsin State University-Platteville. There were over 20 major construction projects completed during Ullsvik’s tenure, including Karrmann Library, Ottensman Hall and Pioneer Farm. In 1971, through his guidance, the school formally became the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

Deborah Rice, UW-Platteville criminal justice instructor and 1975 alumna, remembers Ullsvik during her time as a student on campus. “My memory is of him walking around campus  – smiling and greeting students,” Rice said. “Students knew his face because he was very visible and personable. He’d sit down and chat with students over coffee.”

Warren Carrier


Chancellor: 1975-1982
University of Wisconsin-Platteville

During his seven-year tenure, the “Old Main” building was demolished and replaced with the Center for the Arts. In the 1983 Pioneer yearbook, it was billed as “the best facility of its kind in the state of Wisconsin” with state-of-the-art equipment, computerized lighting and sound systems as well as a Steinway grand piano. Today, students and productions from around the world perform at the facility and it also hosts the Heartland Festival, a series of plays held each summer featuring local and national talent.

William Chmurny


Chancellor: 1983-1992
University of Wisconsin-Platteville

One of Chmurny’s focuses as chancellor was recruiting and retaining women students on campus. He also worked to increase the facilities at UW-Platteville Pioneer Farm. During his service the Education Center, Dairy Housing Facility, Milking Center and Animal Care Addition, silos, and Boar Housing Facility, as well as the Feed Center were added. Notable events in 1984 include William “Bo” Ryan being named the new men’s basketball head coach and Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka being quoted in the Exponent as saying, “We’ve been impressed with the people of Platteville and of the university. We like the set up and the people here are very hospitable.” The Bears made UW-Platteville their summer home from 1984 until 2001.

Robert Culbertson


Chancellor: 1993-1996
University of Wisconsin-Platteville

During his service, the five colleges at UW-Platteville were reformulated into the current three: College of Liberal Arts and Education; College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science; and College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture. Construction began on the UW-Platteville Softball Complex and several projects were completed there, including dugouts, restrooms and a press box. Culbertson returned to teaching and research after a 20-year career in higher education administration and served on the UW-Platteville campus as a professor of criminal justice.

David Markee


Chancellor: 1996-2009
University of Wisconsin-Platteville

During his 13-year career as chancellor of UW-Platteville, Markee oversaw the completion of several projects on campus, including the new Pioneer Student Center, Pioneer Greenhouse and Gardens Complex and Southwest Hall, which is currently the largest residence hall on campus. Southwest Hall was ready for occupancy for the fall 2006 semester and was also the first dormitory constructed on campus since the 1960s. Further projects were completed at Pioneer Farm, including the Agriculture Technology Center, Living and Learning Center and Swine Center. The Art Building received updates and a major portion of the old student center, now Ullsvik Hall, was removed and reconstructed in 2008.  He also worked diligently to make possible the Master of Science in Education Program in English education agreement with the University of Nationalities in Wuhan, China, as well as bring the Confucius Institute to UW-Platteville.

Dennis Shields

Dennis J. Shields

Chancellor: 2009-present
University of Wisconsin-Platteville

About Chancellor Shields

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