Ask Abe: Wisconsin Alumni Association

An Alum

How old is the Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA)?

Abe

Happy birthday to us! On June 26, WAA will turn 158 years young — and counting, so long as the UW keeps producing nostalgic alumni who just can’t seem to let go of this amazing place (and can you blame them?). The original UW–Madison fan club was founded by Charles Wakeley, one of the first 20 students to attend the young university in 1849 and one of two men to graduate (and gain UW alum status) five years later. In 1861, in the midst of a Civil War and with the university struggling, Wakeley hosted a dinner on the eve of commencement for the university’s 40 (yes, 40) alumni to celebrate their alma mater, and WAA was born. Through wartime, campus protests, research triumphs, and more, WAA has worked to bolster the university and, most importantly, celebrate the alumni whose work and legacies on campus and around the world make UW–Madison the beacon of higher education that it is today.