It’s the twenty-third letter in the alphabet of the English language, but, oh, around Badgerland, it’s so much more.
The W appears in a stately fashion as part of the university’s official logo and as a letter in flight for Badger athletics. It adorns buildings across the campus and blooms in carefully tended gardens when warm weather finally returns. It resides under maple syrup in the dining halls, it’s woven into ubiquitous red clothing, and it graces tattoos both temporary and permanent.
The university’s senior photographer, Jeff Miller, has been capturing the letter that stands for Wisconsin — and thousands upon thousands of other images of the campus — with both film and digital cameras for twenty-five years this fall. Staff photographer Bryce Richter has been his partner in visuals for eight years. Their photos have been featured within dozens of issues of On Wisconsin, enriching the reader experience.
This time, we asked Miller to pull together a special collection of the many expected and unexpected places where he and Richter have found this special letter. Some photos will evoke fond memories; others will engender a who-knew reaction.
It’s the only letter with a three-syllable name. And it spells Badger.
Can you find the hidden Ws on campus? Take our quiz.
Fingers do the talking as Badger fans flood State Street to celebrate an NCAA Elite Eight win over Arizona in 2014.
Hungry yet? Staff at the campus’s Gordon Dining and Event Center know the best way to create a unique and yummy breakfast with these specially crafted waffles.
A folder with a bright red W holds something precious: an end-of-semester project submitted for a biology class in spring 2009.
With paint brushes in hand, workers know that a 1999 hockey game isn’t going to be complete until a massive Motion W logo adorns the ice rink at the Kohl Center.
Glistening in the sun in front of the Kohl Center, a Bucky Badger ice sculpture created for an ABC television broadcast in 2007 models a toasty sweater — and that essential letter.
Paint comes into a play at University Book Store, too, when soon-to-be graduates decorate their mortarboards before commencement in 2014.
A chairlift carries riders high above the crowds — and a tent featuring UW–Madison Day at the Wisconsin State Fair exhibits — in 2013.
Wrapped in Badger spirit, a member of the women’s swimming team awaits her turn during a 2012 competition.
Twigs provide a creative solution as students from Dejope Residence Hall make the most of 16-plus inches of snow that accumulated during a 2012 blizzard.
Ensuring that bald is beautiful, a football fan shows his unwavering support during a 2011 tailgating event at Camp Randall Stadium.
From football to film, the stadium demonstrates versatility during a first-ever Movie Night in 2013, when moviegoers picked what they wanted to see via an online vote.
It’s a perfect storm when a cheerleader dashes across the football field with a giant flag following a win in 2014 — just as snow has begun to fall.
Spanning the seasons, one-of-a-kind pumpkins decorate the steps of Olin House, the chancellor’s residence, at Halloween in 2002.
A stray glove remains near Ogg Hall as winter finally loosens its grip in 2010.
The UW sailing team proudly takes to the water to compete during a 2010 intercollegiate national championship on Lake Mendota.
Flashing the universal gesture known to Badgers across the country and around the world, Bucky Badger honors the W.