The University of Wisconsin-Superior traces its roots to 1893, when Wisconsin legislators established a school in Superior to train teachers. Three years later, with strong support from local residents and businesses, Superior Normal School welcomed its first students. The new school's mission was vital to the region's future. Properly educated teachers trained in the latest classroom methods were desperately needed in the small towns and rural school districts of northern Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.
Superior Normal School's first class graduated in 1897. Three young men completed the "full course" and nine women and men met the requirements of the shorter "elementary course." These early graduates were pioneers who first brought the benefits of public education to the region's children regardless of their race, social status or economic standing.
Innovation and quality were hallmarks of Superior Normal School from its earliest days. In 1909 the institution became Wisconsin's first normal school to offer a full-scale training program for the then-new idea of kindergarten. It also was the first to offer a four-year program for high school teachers beginning in 1923. In 1916, Superior Normal School earned accreditation for its academic programs. Today, UW-Superior maintains the longest continuous accreditation of any academic institution in Wisconsin.
After training a generation of teachers, Superior Normal School was authorized in 1926 to grant a bachelor's degree in education. A new name, Superior State Teachers College, proclaimed the institution's new role. Reflecting the quality of its programs, the college's new president was a member of its first graduating class of 1897.
More growth followed as the needs of northern Wisconsin changed. After World War II, the institution began to look beyond teacher training and added undergraduate degrees in other academic fields. In 1950 it offered its first graduate program -- a master's degree in school administration. The next year the state board of regents changed the institution's name to Wisconsin State College-Superior to better reflect its expanding role.
The college grew significantly in the 1950s and '60s. Campus boundaries were expanded and numerous buildings erected. Undergraduate offerings continued to expand into areas such as business, science, music and art. Several graduate programs in education were added, including guidance and counseling, reading, and school psychology. A specialist in education degree was added in 1965 to further the professional training of school principals, district superintendents and business managers. This program grew to play a critical role in Wisconsin's educational system. Since 1977, graduates of UW-Superior's educational administration programs have served in school leadership posts in approximately half of the Wisconsin's school districts.
Wisconsin's state colleges eventually were reclassified as universities, so in 1964 the school was renamed Wisconsin State University-Superior. Finally, in 1971 it became part of the University of Wisconsin System and acquired its present name.
In recent years, UW-Superior has continued to focus its academic programs to meet the needs of students and employers. A graduate degree in instruction was added in 1985 followed by a graduate degree in special education three years later. The university also has added innovative undergraduate programs, such as legal studies, art therapy, and transportation and logistics management.
Today, UW-Superior takes pride in its designation as Wisconsin's Leading Public Liberal Arts College, and in providing its 2,900 undergraduate and graduate students with quality academic programs, small classes and a friendly, supportive atmosphere. A solid liberal arts program offers the skills needed to perform on the job and in society. Quality professional training provides specific skills to succeed in teaching, business, science, the arts and in a host of other endeavors.
Just as importantly, students enrolling at the University continue to be impressed not only with the quality of their education, but also that professors take time to learn students' names and understand their needs. That sort of caring and commitment has long been the key to a Superior education.