Campus History

Celebrating the Past, Shaping the Future

WAA 150th logo

At its inaugural meeting in 1861, the Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) consisted of “a little band of university graduates … keeping alive, amidst other excitements, the spirit of loyalty to their tottering alma mater.” Charles Wakeley 1854, one of the first two graduates of the university, founded the association because he was concerned that the Civil War would threaten the university’s funding, and he felt it was important for alumni to advocate for their alma mater.

Years later, in 1922, the association’s board of directors refined its mission further: “[The Wisconsin Alumni Association’s] purpose is to substitute organized effort for mere individual good-will. Its keynote is cooperation. Its success depends on what Kipling calls ‘the everlasting teamwork of every bloomin’ soul.’ ”

That statement is especially true today. From day one to year 150, WAA’s mission has been to encourage UW alumni to work in concert for the best interests of their university. Throughout the years, Badgers have bonded together to create many lasting legacies, including the Camp Randall Civil War memorial arch, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the Homecoming tradition, the Wisconsin Union, and the UW Foundation.

As the halfway point of its 150th anniversary year approaches, WAA is taking a look back at the moments that shaped both the association and the alumni experience with a special anniversary archives at You’ll find fun facts, photos, videos, and a “This Week in History” feature in celebration of the alumni association’s sesquicentennial.

Meanwhile, you can test your Badger IQ by attempting to answer the questions associated with the following photos. Visit to find out how you did.


Who won the UW’s first Homecoming game?

class foto

Are all these people attending a wedding?

bucky cards

Why is Bucky holding stacks of postcards?

climbing wall

What is a climbing wall doing on Library Mall? Photo: Jeff Miller

spirit day Iraq

On Spirit Day, Badgers around the globe show off their UW pride. When was the first UW Spirit Day?


What sort of president do you suppose the gent standing in the center is?

5th quarter

What songs does the Marching Band play during every Fifth Quarter?


Where did WAA hold its first overseas event?



Published in the Summer 2011 issue


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