Early Days

UW-Marinette is located on the shores of Lake Michigan near the site of the original Pine Beach Chautauqua, which brought education and culture to small towns on the frontier over a century ago. The campus continues the tradition as a focal point of learning and cultural activities for the community. Today the campus is part of the statewide University of Wisconsin System of 26 campuses located throughout the state, for the "boundaries of the campus are the boundaries of the state."

The Marinette campus began in 1935 when the University of Wisconsin Extension offered classes to 25 students in the old Marinette High School on Main Street. With the end of World War II and the GI Bill available to veterans, the need for higher education increased dramatically. The UW-Extension Center, with the cooperation of the City of Marinette, offered college freshmen classes at Marinette Vocational School (later to become Lincoln School). Classes were taught by "circuit riders" from UW-Madison except for residents Joe and Gerta Gerend who taught English and German. From 1951 to 1963 Joe was the director of the UW-Extension-Marinette Center until 1963. In 1963 Lon W. Weber was appointed director.

Present Campus Established 

In 1964 the University Center System became a separate unit of the University of Wisconsin. Eighty-nine freshmen students enrolled for the Center's final year at the Vocational School and Weber was appointed Dean of the UW Center-Marinette County, a post he held until 1967.

In 1964, The Marinette County Board of Supervisors and the University of Wisconsin agreed to partner to build a campus in Marinette. The County would provide the buildings and the University would provide the faculty. On October 12, groundbreaking took place for the construction of the present Main Administration Building on 36 acres of pine woods on the shores of Lake Michigan’s Green Bay. When the doors opened at the new facility to welcome students for the 1965-66 academic year, there were 232 students enrolled, half again as many as originally projected. In 1966 the Marinette County Board of Supervisors authorized a two-phase building program to expand the campus for an enrollment capacity of 500. In September, 1966, Bayshore Players (Theatre on the Bay precursor) opened with three one-act plays on the stage in the Student Union directed by Herbert L. Williams and Lyle Iverson.

From 1967 - 1968, William A. Schmidtke, former Director of Student Services, was Acting Dean. In 1967 he helped enact the Reciprocity Agreement allowing Menominee County residents to attend UWC-Marinette at resident tuition rates.

UW-Green Bay Satellite Campus 

From 1968 to June, 1969 James Olson was appointed Campus Dean of the UW-Green Bay, Marinette Campus (Manitowoc and Menasha were the other two freshmen-sophomore satellite campuses of UW-GB). Phase one of the expansion program began with groundbreaking for the Fine Arts Building in January, 1968. Phase two began in August, 1969, with the construction of the Library Learning Center and the Max E. Peterson Field House.

From June to September, 1969, William A. Schmidtke was again appointed Acting Dean. In September he was appointed Campus Dean, a post he held until his retirement on January 1, 1995. May, 1971 saw the dedication of the UWGB-Marinette County Campus complex with the new University of Wisconsin president, John C. Weaver, and UWGB Chancellor, Edward W. Weidner, sharing the podium with Marinette County Supervisors and other citizens at ceremonies marking the event.

The UW Centers within the UW System 

On July 1, 1972, the Marinette campus was transferred from UWGB back into a newly expanded Center System as part of the Merger Act creating the UW System.

On May 26, 1974, the first Associate degree commencement in Marinette took place in the library where twenty-six students from Marinette, Menominee, Peshtigo, Oconto, Gillett and Ingalls received degrees in the presence of an audience of more than 100.

UW-Marinette Foundation

In 1974, the UW-Marinette Foundation incorporated to continue fund-raising activities that included scholarships, faculty development, a fine arts series and Theatre on the Bay. In 1977 an evening Associate degree program is instituted at the Marinette Center giving part-time students who work during the day the opportunity for degree completion through evening studies. In 1983, the record number of Associate degrees awarded in a single year is set at 73. In 1983 the Theatre backstage addition was completed with funds raised by the UW-Marinette Foundation and supplemented by the Marinette County Board.

Associate of Arts and Science Degree 

In 1988 a new Associate degree of Arts and Science was initiated to facilitate the transfer process. The degree requirements are accepted by all baccalaureate institutions in the UW System and transfer is guaranteed.

International Programs 

In 1988, the first Fulbright Scholar at UW-Marinette arrived on campus along with the first 16 Central American Scholarship Program (CASP) students. UW-Marinette hosted four Fulbright Scholars between 1988 and 1993. The CASP program was funded by U.S. Aid and administered by Georgetown University bringing 7 groups of students from Central America for two-year programs in computer science and business until 2000. In January 1995, the first group of Youth for Understanding students from South America, Mexico and France arrived on campus for a semester-long intensive English program sponsored by the office of Continuing Education.

Computer Age

In 1989, the UW Centers received a $2.69 million AT&T grant to network all Centers campuses with fiber optic wiring. In 1990, the UWC-Marinette received a grant from AT&T, which equipped a 16-station computer lab. In 1991, July 23 marked the campus rededication and groundbreaking for a new campus entrance sign, a gift from the UW-Marinette Foundation.

In 1993, groundbreaking took place for the addition of the University/YMCA pool to the Max E. Peterson Field House funded by the River Cities Task Force and the County Board of Supervisors. The collaborative sharing of pool and field house facilities by the YMCA and UWC-Marinette increased educational and recreational opportunities for all Tri-County citizens.

In January, 1995, Nancee I. Bailey was appointed Interim Dean. In August, Sidney H. Bremer was appointed Campus Dean and CEO. On October 8, a convocation and investiture was held in conjunction with the 30th birthday of the campus. James LaMalfa's "Harlequin" was dedicated at the entrance to the Fine Arts Building.

In May, 1996, Herbert L. Williams retired following a 30-year career as professor of Communication Arts and Artistic Director of Theatre on the Bay.

In 1998, the UW Centers became known as the UW Colleges.

Expansion and Renovation

In July, 1998, the Marinette County Board approved a $5.1 million project for the campus to include additions and renovations to each of the four campus buildings. The Architectural Firm, Bray Associates of Sheboygan was selected to design the plans. OM Construction of Green Bay was the construction firm. The project was completed by December, 2000.In October, 2001, the William A. Schmidtke Student Terrace was dedicated.Enrollment in September, 1999 was 551, the highest recorded at UW-Marinette. In May, 2000, the record number of Associate degrees awarded was set at 147.

In 2002, the first collaborative bachelor’s degree program was established with UW-Milwaukee. 2003 saw the first two UW-Marinette graduates, Maria Kirsch and Ashleigh Johnson, to complete their bachelor’s degrees with UW-Milwaukee without leaving Marinette.

In 2004, Sid Bremer retired as Campus Dean and CEO. On August 1, 2004, Paula T. Langteau became the 5th Campus Dean and CEO for UW-Marinette.

In 2005, UW-Marinette celebrated it’s 40th anniversary. Since 1965, over 11,000 students received their best start at UW-Marinette.

Collaborative degree options continued to grow for UW-Marinette students including a degree in engineering from UW-Platteville. In 2007, Dean Langteau secured a National Shipbuilding Research Project grant, funded by the U.S. Navy, to offer courses in marine design through our Continuing Education Department.

Fundraising through the UW-Marinette Foundation increased the level of scholarship money available to students from $12,000 per year to $30,000 per year.

In 2007, Dual Enrollment programs began giving high school students the opportunity to earn college credits.

In 2008, Service Learning programs for students increased with the first AmeriCorps/VISTA volunteer on campus.

Fall 2009 saw UW-Marinette’s highest enrollment at 570 students.