Events, activities to celebrate ‘50 Years of UW-Green Bay’

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is making plans to celebrate five decades of history by engaging alumni, students and the community in opportunities to share their memories.

The opening day of fall semester 2015 — Wednesday, Sept. 2 — will mark the golden anniversary of the occasion in 1965 when Gov. Warren Knowles signed legislation creating a new four-year university for Northeastern Wisconsin.

Activities throughout the 2015-16 academic year will be tied to the theme “50 Years of UW-Green Bay.” A kickoff celebration is planned for Sept. 2.

“We are going to offer ways for 32,000 alumni to reconnect and for 6,500 current students to embrace the future,” says UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary L. Miller. He also specifically wants to use the opportunity to engage the community.

“This community wanted a great university in Green Bay back in 1965. Our goal is to meet the needs and expectations of this region through increasing levels of engagement, partnership building, innovative education and service,” he said. “The opportunity to celebrate our first 50 years is also an opportunity to commit ourselves to being a key partner in this great place.”

The Sept. 2 events begin with a public, outdoor reception on the University Union Plaza from 11 a.m. to noon. A short formal program with greetings from state and local officials, UW System representatives, community leaders and other well-wishers is planned.

A second major event at which the 50 Years of UW-Green Bay theme will be prominent will be the annual Alumni Reunion Days weekend on Oct. 17 and 18. A yearlong lecture series is also expected to begin in fall.

Although the full year’s calendar is not yet complete, the University is announcing its plans six months before the anniversary of its founding to reach out to current and former students, employees and community members who might have photos, mementos or memories to share.

A “Share Your Story” page is part of the 50 Years website at

The 50 Years website will share historical “Phoenix Phactoids” tidbits and periodically rotate top-50 lists on topics from favorite campus and Weidner Center shows and concerts to all-time most memorable professors, from 50 history-making sports moments to 50 (or more) notable alumni. (The first list, at, looks at top campus performances in the student-run Good Times Programming series.)

Extensive photo galleries highlighting UW-Green Bay’s people, programs and campus growth through the decades will be made available to the public closer to the September anniversary. A special August edition of the University magazine, Inside UW-Green Bay, will celebrate the milestone.

A historic timeline and oral-history project related to the first 50 years are also in development. Interested parties can refer to UWGB’s first 25 years in the book From the Beginning, written by former staff member Betty D. Brown, based on original documents and personal observations as a member of the campus community. It was published in the early 1990s, and can be accessed online at

Use of the hashtag #uwgb50 will be encouraged on social media.

Miller, UW-Green Bay’s sixth chancellor, says he’s looking forward to hearing from early alumni and founding faculty and staff members with their thoughts on the development of Founding Chancellor Edward Weidner’s 1960s-era field of dreams into a modern, respected and comprehensive university.

More than nostalgia, the 50-year milestone is not just a time for reflection, Miller adds. “It’s about the future.”

He notes that at its founding in 1965, UW-Green Bay was widely regarded as one of America’s most innovative institutions, organized around the idea that students should tackle great problems. In public remarks when he assumed the chancellorship last year, Miller challenged today’s UW-Green Bay to embrace its roots by capturing innovations from the private sector, fostering creativity internally, and promoting entrepreneurship by students.

“With inspiration from our past and from the Phoenix itself — a mythical bird that is periodically reborn or regenerated — we at UW-Green Bay will use our anniversary as a launch pad for reinvigoration, and for shaping this community’s future,” Miller said.

The chancellor says innovation, coupled with the transformative power of higher education to change lives and promote economic growth, and a deep commitment to serving the region and partnering with business, government and the nonprofit sector, bode well for UW-Green Bay’s next 50 years.

UW-Green Bay is not the only local institution celebrating a milestone anniversary in 2015. The Neville Public Museum of Brown County will mark 100 years, while the Green Bay Press-Gazette celebrates 100 years publishing under its current name. (The year 2016 will mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the paper’s oldest forerunner, the weekly Green Bay Gazette.)

A campus planning committee headed by staff members Kimberly Desotell and Tracy Heaser is coordinating activities related to the UW-Green Bay anniversary. For more information, visit the website, or contact the University Advancement Office at (920) 465-2074 or e-mail

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