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University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

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University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

University of Wisconsin–
Eau Claire
The Seal of the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire
Motto Excellence: Our measure, our motto, our goal!
Established 1916
Type State university
Endowment US $37,524,837[1]
Chancellor James Schmidt[2]
Vice-Chancellor Beth Hellwig
Patricia Kleine
Dean Brian A. Carlisle
Diane Hoadley
Robert M. Knight
Gail P. Scukanec
Marty Wood
Linda Young
Academic staff 479
Admin. staff 1,150
Students 10,549
Undergraduates 10,346[3]
Postgraduates 543[3]

Eau Claire, WI, USA
44°47′56″N 91°29′58″W / 44.798950°N 91.499346°W / 44.798950; -91.499346Coordinates: 44°47′56″N 91°29′58″W / 44.798950°N 91.499346°W / 44.798950; -91.499346

Campus Urban, 333 acres (135 ha)
Colors Navy & Old Gold
Nickname Blugolds

The University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire (also known as UW–Eau Claire, UWEC or simply Eau Claire) is a public liberal arts university located in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, United States. Part of the University of Wisconsin System, it offers bachelor's and master's degrees and is categorized as a postbaccalaureate comprehensive institution in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. With a student enrollment of more than 10,000 and an annual budget approaching 200 million dollars, UW-Eau Claire is the largest of the four postsecondary schools in the city.[4]

The campus consists of 28 major buildings spanning 333 acres (135 ha). An additional 168 acres (68 ha) of forested land is used for environmental research.[5] UWEC has been called "Wisconsin's most beautiful campus" because of its location on an "especially attractive portion" of the Chippewa River in the Chippewa Valley.[6][7]

The university is affiliated with the NCAA's Division III sports program and the WIAC Intercollegiate Conference.[8] The university has no mascot, though its students, staff, and faculty are referred to as "Blugolds."[9]


Founded in 1916 as the Eau Claire State Normal School, the university originally offered one-, two- and three-year teachers' courses and a principals' course. At the school's founding ceremony Governor Emanuel L. Philipp said the university was founded "in order that you, the sons and daughters of the commonwealth, might have better educational service." He went on to say the university would "go on benefiting the state of Wisconsin as long as the walls of this massive building (Schofield Hall) last."[10]

As a college primarily focused on educating teachers, Eau Claire housed Park Elementary, a laboratory school. Park Elementary had an unusual architectural design that included a hidden third story balcony used by professors and student teachers to observe classes.

As a result of the changing educational focus of the university, this method of teaching new teachers fell out of use and Park Elementary School was closed. Most of the building was repurposed for general university classroom use, with about a third of the space dedicated to a child daycare center. The building was demolished in 2012.

In 1927, the name of the college was changed to Eau Claire State Teachers College and the school began offering a bachelor's degree program. The campus was also altered to accommodate a 300-man detachment from the Army Air Corps.

Eau Claire's role as an educational institution underwent profound changes in the 1940s and 1950s. The university saw a significant rise in enrollment and widened its scope beyond educating future teachers. Eau Claire president W. R. Davies, speaking at a university assembly, said "the goal is a college of education that will rank as one of the best in the middlewest, with a wide enough offering to truly serve the needs of the college youth of northwest Wisconsin."[12] In 1951, the Wisconsin Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System authorized the school to offer bachelor of arts and science degrees in liberal arts; subsequently, the name of the school was changed to the Wisconsin State College at Eau Claire.

During the 1960s, the university saw further expansion. Science and art buildings were erected and several dormitories were built or expanded to meet the needs of an ever-growing student population. The university began to market itself more aggressively because of increased competition from surrounding campuses. Eau Claire's nickname - "Wisconsin's Most Beautiful Campus" - was first developed during this time. Highlighting the university's aesthetic appeal, an Eau Claire poet wrote, "Through and from a shady glen / A charming streamlet hies / And rippling along its picturesque way / A campus glorifies."[13] In 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. The 1960s are remembered as a "flowering of excellence on the campus."[14]

In 1962, Martin Luther King, Jr. visited the campus and famously called on president John F. Kennedy to issue a second Emancipation Proclamation.[14] King said "the first proclamation freed us from slavery - the second will free us from segregation, which is actually nothing more than slavery."[15]

During the late 1960s, the university was involved in several protests against the Vietnam War, including a 42-hour vigil and several marches. Though there were numerous protests, all of them remained peaceful. After the Kent State shootings, the university community planted four trees as a memorial to the dead students.[16] One protester, Eau Claire student John Laird, the son of U.S. Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird, made headlines when he announced his opposition to the war in Vietnam and his intention to join his fellow students in peaceful protest.[17]

In 1971, the name of the institution was changed to the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire following the merger of the Wisconsin State University System and the University of Wisconsin System. In subsequent years, the university would solidify its tradition as a liberal arts campus. Currently, the university's stated mission is to provide "rigorous undergraduate liberal education" alongside "distinctive professional and graduate programs that build on and strengthen our proud tradition of liberal education."[18] Since the 1971 merger, Eau Claire has expanded its course offerings, added more faculty and students, and enlarged campus grounds. Eau Claire has also acquired hundreds of acres of forested land primarily used for environmental research and has recently acquired St. Bede's Monastery.[19]


The University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire campus sits on the banks of the Chippewa River. The campus is located in an urban setting, close to Eau Claire's historic Water Street.

The main academic building on campus is Schofield Hall, home to administrative offices. The building was named after Harvey Schofield, the first president of the university. Other academic buildings include the Phillips Science Hall, the Hibbard Humanities Hall, the Haas Fine Arts Center, and the Schneider Social Sciences hall.[20]

The Davies Center, a hub of the campus, is home to dining halls, a movie theatre, the offices for student newspapers and the student senate, coffee shops, and spaces for study and socializing. The building was named after William R. Davies, a noted president of the University. In 2011, the old Davies Center was torn down. A new facility was completed in 2013.[21]

Sports facilities include the W. L. Zorn Arena, Hobbs Ice Center and Carson Park.

Organization and administration

Since its founding in 1916, the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire has had three presidents and six chancellors. One president, Leonard Haas, took an interim assignment with the UW System and returned as chancellor.[22]

  • Harvey Schofield, President 1916–1940
  • William R. Davies, President 1941–1959
  • Leonard Haas, President 1959–1971, Chancellor 1973–1980
  • M. Emily Hannah, Chancellor 1981–1984
  • Larry G. Schnack, Chancellor 1985–1997
  • Donald J. Mash, Chancellor 1998–2005
  • Brian Levin-Stankevich, Chancellor 2006–2012
  • James Schmidt, Chancellor 2013–present

Academic profile

Eau Claire is organized into four colleges: the College of Business, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Education and Human Sciences, and the College of Nursing. The school offers about 80 undergraduate concentrations and 14 graduate concentrations.[23] The university offers master's degrees in business, communication, education, English, history, and psychology, and a doctoral degree in nursing practice. Enrollment is approximately 11,000 undergraduate and 500 graduate students. Eau Claire's academic programs operate on a semester calendar.

The University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire has been accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools since 1950. Other agencies also fully accredit specific programs.[24]

Students are required to show competency in mathematics, English, a foreign language and foreign cultures. Courses that deal with issues relating to diversity are also required.[25] Students are also required to take a "service-learning" course where they engage in charitable work with the Eau Claire community. Service-learning "is intended to provide students with an opportunity to serve their community, apply knowledge gained in the classroom, enhance their critical thinking skills, and become informed, ethical, responsible, and active citizens."[26]

The Center of Excellence for Faculty and Undergraduate Student Research Collaboration was established at UW-Eau Claire to encourage students to incorporate "research into their undergraduate experience."[27] Students working with faculty publish papers in academic journals.[1] Eau Claire's faculty/student research program has been nationally recognized.[1]

Reputation and rankings

For 2013, U.S. News and World Report ranked UW-Eau Claire as the 31st best Midwestern university out of 146 public and private colleges and as the 5th best university when only public colleges were considered.[1] U.S. News has ranked Eau Claire "among the top five regional public institutions in the Midwest, and in the top third of public and private Midwestern regional universities, every year since 1995."[28] The magazine also named UW-Eau Claire the fourth best school in the Midwest in terms of undergraduate teaching.[29][30]

The Princeton Review has named Eau Claire a "Best Value College" (one of 50 such public campuses in the country) and a "Best Midwestern College."[31] The magazine described the school as a "challenging, midsize state university that offers an exceptional and very affordable education" and said that "in terms of its array of majors and minors, Eau Claire compares favorably with much larger schools. As one example, more than 700 students are involved directly in faculty research — an honor reserved for graduate students at most universities."[32] The publication added that "one of the more impressive aspects of the university is its inexpensiveness in relation to the quality of education being offered."[33] The Princeton Review also included Eau Claire in its list of the 311 most environmentally friendly campuses in the United States.[34]

Kiplinger's Personal Finance has included Eau Claire in their list of the "100 Best Values in Public Education."[35] According to the publication, the "rankings are based on academic quality, overall costs and financial aid availability."[36][37][38]

The university is one of four undergraduate institutions in the United States to have four or more Dreyfus teacher scholars on the faculty and was among the 141 public and private colleges, universities and professional schools named in the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for General Community Service.[39][40][41][42] The Templeton Foundation included the university in its list of colleges that "encourage character development."[43]

UW-Eau Claire sends more students abroad than any other master's level institution in Wisconsin, and it ranks 10th nationally among all master's schools in the number of students who study abroad.[44][45]

Notable programs


UW–Eau Claire's Jazz Ensemble I is a six-time winner of Down Beat's "Best College Big Band" award and has been nominated for a Grammy twice.[46] The New York Times has called the jazz program one of the most "well regarded in the country."[47] The university also hosts the The Eau Claire Jazz Festival, one of the oldest, largest and most prestigious collegiate jazz festivals in the country.[48][49][50] The festival regularly attracts respected jazz musicians including Gary Burton, Bill Evans, Rufus Reid, Lewis Nash, Michael Brecker, Stanley Jordan, Eric Marienthal, Bobby Sanabria, Chris Potter, Benny Green, Charlie Byrd, Ira Sullivan and Slide Hampton.[51] The festival is composed of college bands, high school bands and invited performers. The college and high school bands compete to win awards, and UW-Eau Claire's Jazz I regularly performs with the invited guests. The festival also offers clinics, lectures and master classes with the invited performers. The Eau Claire Jazz Festival is currently 43 years old.[52]

The Forum

The Forum lecture series invites notable speakers to share their ideas with the Chippewa Valley community. The program was founded in 1942 by President W. R. Davies to express his vision of what the college might become as a cultural center. The Forum is one of the longest continuous lecture series in the United States and has hosted a variety of speakers including Martin Luther King, Jr., Carl Sagan, Henry Kissinger, William F. Buckley Jr., Maya Angelou, Richard Nixon and Noam Chomsky.[53]

Ann Devroy Memorial Forum

The Ann Devroy Memorial Forum is a partnership between The Washington Post and the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. The program was set up after the death of Ann Devroy, the chief White House correspondent at The Washington Post and a 1970 UW-Eau Claire graduate. Each year a noted journalist presents a keynote address at the Ann Devroy Memorial Forum, and a fellowship is given to a promising UW-Eau Claire journalism student.

Special Collections and Archives

The Special Collections and Archives at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire houses the official and unofficial records of the university from its founding to the present. It also holds one of the nation's largest collections of jazz, which includes more than 1000 charts and 1000 recordings of artists such as Woody Herman, Sammy Nestico, Count Basie, Stan Kenton, Benny Goodman and Henry Mancini. Several of the charts and recordings are signed and unique.[54][55]

The UW-Eau Claire Archives is a member of the Area Research Center Network of the Wisconsin Historical Society, serving Buffalo, Chippewa, Clark, Eau Claire, Rusk and Taylor counties, and holds manuscripts and records pertaining to those counties.[56]

Mission statement

UW-Eau Claire has the following mission statement:[57]

We foster in one another creativity, critical insight, empathy, and intellectual courage, the hallmarks of a transformative liberal education and the foundation for active citizenship and lifelong inquiry. We fulfill our mission through a pervasive university commitment to provide:

  • Rigorous, intentional and experiential undergraduate liberal education for life and livelihood;
  • Strong, distinctive professional and graduate programs that build on and strengthen our proud tradition of liberal education;
  • Multicultural and international learning experiences for a diverse world;
  • Exemplary student-faculty research and scholarship that enhance teaching and learning;
  • An inclusive campus community that challenges students to develop their intellectual, personal, cultural, and social competencies;
  • Educational opportunities responsive to the needs of our communities, state, region and beyond; and
  • Academic leadership in transforming liberal education

Alma Mater and Fight song

Alma Mater[58] Earlier Alma Mater[59] Fight Song[60]

Oh school of Eau Claire, our voices we raise
Accept thou this anthem of undying praise
We pledge to be faithful stouthearted and strong
And cherish thy mem'ry as our lives are long
Give honor to thee and sing out thy name
Oh college of ours, we dearly acclaim
Instill thou within us a feeling of pride
We pray alma mater forever abide

Of all the schools within our state
We love the gold and blue,
For there are none can hope to rate
Our college dear with you.
The Chippewa River pays thee homage
Bowing low before thy feet,
And the scene it stirs our heartbeat
Which the bluffs, the trees, the meadows make complete.
And we thy loyal sons and daughters
Our love and fealty will swear
To thee our Alma Mater,
Our college of Eau Claire.

Eau Claire college dear, Hail to thee our Alma Mater.
Strong through every year,
carry high the Blue and Gold!
U – Rah – Rah
Aim for excellence.
Give the best that you have in you.
Go Blugolds, fight to win, for fame and victory!
B – L – U – G – O – L – D – S, BLUGOLDS!

Student life

Viennese Ball

The Viennese Ball is a 39 year old tradition at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. A formal event, the Ball "recalls the culture, history and music of 19th-century Vienna."[61] It is modeled on the New Year's Eve Kaiser Ball and includes performances from the University Symphony Orchestra (which performs waltzes and polkas from the Strauss Era) and the Eau Claire Jazz Ensemble I, which plays music from the Big Band Era. Additional styles of music are performed by a variety of smaller student and faculty ensembles. The Ball also offers Austrian and American cuisine.[62]

Madrigal Dinner

The Madrigal Dinner is a 15th-century-style banquet. At the dinner, the Chamber Choir performs in costume as a royal court celebrating the harvest season and the holiday season. Traditionally, a student performs as a jester to add levity to the evening's festivities. Additionally, each year different students are chosen to play the roles of King and Queen. Guests attending the Madrigal Dinner often dress in period costumes, though no dress code is required. Beyond choral music, the Madrigal Dinner also incorporates modern Christmas music. Dishes such as wassail, beef vegetable soup and stuffed pork chops are served.[63]


The university's athletic teams participate in the NCAA Division III sports program as well as the WIAC Intercollegiate Conference. There are nine men's varsity sports programs (basketball, cross country, football, golf, ice hockey, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field and wrestling) and eleven women's sports programs (basketball, cross country, golf, gymnastics, ice hockey, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and volleyball). In terms of total wins, the Blugolds rank 14th in the entire NCAA Division III sports program.

Team name and mascot

Eau Claire athletes are referred to as "Blugolds," a name coined to reflect the school colors, navy blue and old gold. Previous athletic team names include the Normals and the Normalites (because UWEC was founded as the Eau Claire State Normal School), the Blue and Gold Warriors, the Blue and Gold Gridirons, the Zornmen (in honor of Willis L. "Bill" Zorn, basketball and football coach from 1928–1968), the Golden Zornadoes, the Blue and Gold Squad, and the Blugold Squad.

The University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire has no official university mascot. However, in 2011, the student body voted in favor of a mythical bird as a mascot following a student-lead initiative. The bird represents "the students of UW-Eau Claire, not the university itself."[64][65]


The Blugolds have been national champions in cross country (1984, 2009), softball (2008), golf (2001), swimming (1983, 1987, 1988), and ice hockey (1984, 2013). Blugolds have been conference champions in men's swimming 25 of past 40 years, conference champions in women's swimming 19 of past 32 years, conference champions in women's tennis 10 of the last 18 seasons, conference champions in softball seven of the last 15 seasons, conference champions in women's golf seven of the last 13 seasons, conference champions in women's soccer three of the last six seasons, and conference champions in women's volleyball three of the last five seasons. The Blugolds hold nine national titles. They hold 140 conference titles and have won 36 Academic All-American Awards.[66]

Marching band

The UW–Eau Claire Blugold Marching Band (BMB) is the largest D3 college marching band in the country and remains one of the most active marching bands in the midwest. Under the direction of Dr. Randal Dickerson the BMB has grown from 60 members in fall 2000 to 300 members in 2012.[67] The marching band has performed in multiple exhibitions including a performance at two NFL halftime shows - a Green Bay Packers-Minnesota Vikings game and a Minnesota Vikings-Miami Dolphins game. The BMB has also toured Europe twice, performing in France, Italy, and aboard the cruise ship, Costa Serena, in the Mediterranean.


  • The university was the center of a debate on academic freedom after officials denied a dorm leader the right to direct a Bible study in his dormitory. Officials said that it was inappropriate for a dormitory leader to have a Bible study because it might make non-Christian students uncomfortable. The student then sued the university and was eventually successful in ending the policy. This debate was widely publicized in part because the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education was deeply involved in the case.[68][69]
  • The university was involved in a gay rights controversy when Tom Hilton, an information systems professor, negatively responded to a student email asking for his support for the Eau Queer Film Festival. Hilton called homosexuals the "walking wounded" and said that they needed to be helped to recover. The email ignited a "furor" at the school when it was leaked. Eventually, Hilton apologized for sending the message. Administrative action was taken, but Hilton was not fired.[70][71]
  • UW–Eau Claire was the center of a controversy related to an oak tree sacred to Native Americans. The tree, officially known as the Council Oak, was the symbol of the UW–Eau Claire campus (found on the university's seal) and the meeting place for many Native American tribes negotiating truces. Although the original Council Oak had died years earlier, a second tree was planted at the site of the original "Council Oak." The plan to build a new student center put this oak tree in danger and many Native American groups in conjunction with some students protested the new plan, while others supported building the new center despite the risk to the tree. Eventually, after much publicity, it was decided to scrap the old plans, despite the large added expense, and build the 48.8 million dollar building at another location.[72][73]

Notable people

Main article: List of University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire people

The University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire has more than 78,000 living alumni.[74] Notable Eau Claire alumni include Ann Devroy, the former White House correspondent at The Washington Post; T. Keith Glennan, the first administrator of NASA and president of Case Western Reserve University; Mark Andrew Green, a congressman and ambassador known for his work with malaria; Stanford University climate scientist Pamela Matson, winner of the MacArthur Fellowship; Forbes 400 billionaire and entrepreneur John Menard; stage and film actress Laila Robins; chemist Richard Saykally, 1932 Professor Chair at the University of California, Berkeley; Justin Vernon, Grammy Award-winning lead singer of Bon Iver; and poet and literary critic Elizabeth Willis, winner of the National Poetry Series and the Guggenheim Fellowship.

See also


External links

  • UW–Eau Claire Website
  • UW–Eau Claire Athletics
  • Blugold Marching Band
  • The Forum
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