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Founders’ Day

The very first classes at the University of Wisconsin gathered on February 5, 1849 — and the UW has been changing lives and moving the world forward ever since.

This is our story. This is our university.

The first classes at the University of Wisconsin gathered on February 5, 1849, with just 20 students and one professor. Today, the UW is one of the top public universities in the world — and you are part of its ongoing story. Your UW experience — and the person you became because of it — is one piece of a long, complex saga that links more than 450,000 living alumni all over the planet.

Every year, the Wisconsin Alumni Association® (WAA) commemorates this story with Founders’ Day celebrations around the globe. Although we can’t gather in person this year, finding new ways forward is part of being a Badger — just like it was for that very first class. Alumni and friends all over the world gathered virtually on Tuesday, Feb. 2, for The UW Now Livestream: Founders’ Day Edition, featuring presentations and a live Q & A with three UW faculty members whose work is changing lives.

The UW Now Livestream: Founders’ Day Edition

Leading the Way with Campus Research

On February 2, discover how three UW faculty members are building a better future through cutting-edge research. This is a special opportunity to get an inside look at what these experts are working on now and ask your questions!

  • Nam C. Kim, BA, MA, PhD — associate professor in the Department of Anthropology
  • Young Mie Kim, BA, MA, PhD — professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Kristyn Masters, BS, PhD — Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor, H.I. Romnes Faculty Fellow

The UW Brings Us Together… Then and Now

Virtual Founders’ Day celebrations date back more than 80 years! Check out these clips from a recording of a Founders’ Day radio program from February 1941. It was broadcast live from Wisconsin Union Theater with segments from Milwaukee and New York City, where alumni speakers lived. Then and now, Badgers are eager to use technology to connect across great distances.

Special thanks to the UW–Madison Archives and the Mills Music Library for locating and digitizing this broadcast.

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