Normal schools were created at a time when teachers weren’t required to have a four-year degree; rather, they were needed to provide information to teachers about how to effectively run a classroom (Gough & Oberly, 2016, p. 10). By 1909, there were eight schools in Wisconsin and trying to open an additional school was quite the challenge (Gough & Oberly, 2016, p. 10). There were several requests to the Regents but all were denied. Another request was put through after by Emmet Horan (Gough & Oberly, 2016, p. 12).
In 1913 the Legislature, after considering plans submitted, appropriated the sum of $225,000 for a Normal School building. This amount was divided into three installments of $75,000 each extending over a period of three years. In September of 1915 we began the foundation of the building. In September 1916, the building was completed. Two years ago we secured an amount of money sufficient to take care of the operating expenses of the school for the year 1916-1917 (Periscope, Horan, 1917).
The institution started out only serving those who wanted to be a teacher, but today, the school is so much more! From offering diplomas and one-year certificates, the university now offers bachelor and master's degrees in programs that consist of nursing, business, liberal arts, and education (Oberly & Gough, 2016, p. 7).
Eight Chancellors represent the 100-year history of UW-Eau Claire; each having their own impact on the success of the institution.
Harvey A. Schofield, 1916-1940
Harvey A. Schofield, the first president, began UW-Eau Claire's history in 1916 and remained as such for 25 years. Schofield managed the administration entirely by hiring faculty, utilizing the curriculum as designed by the Regents in 1892 (Gough & Oberly, 2016, p. 16), and was the political advocate during attempted closings in 1923, 1928 and 1937 (UWEC, n.d.-d). He was successful in assisting with the name change to The Eau Claire State Teachers College as well as guiding the college to accreditation by The American Association of Teachers Colleges in 1927 (UWEC, n.d.-d).
William R. Davies, 1941-1959
The enrollment at UWEC spiked from approximately 700 students to 1700 throughout William R. Davies' tenure. Like Schofield, Davies followed suit by changing the Teachers College to a State College in 1951. It was at this time that the curriculum, then solely focused on teaching teachers how to teach, now includes the arts, nursing, and business programs. He was the first leader at UW-Eau Claire to encourage international travel, now known as study abroad (UWEC, n.d.-d). Finally, he was successful in securing a new building that housed many functions: a campus school, theatre, academics, and a sports arena as well as opened two dormitories.
Leonard C. Haas, 1959-1971 and 1973-1980
The school really began to take shape during Haas' leadership. Not only did it become a State University in 1964 (UW-System, n.d.), but the school now consisted of 25 buildings and close to 11,000 students. From the single accreditation in 1927, the university now has "30 honor societies and accreditations". Haas also "adopted 'Excellence' as the university's motto" (UWEC, n.d.-d).
M. Emily Hannah, 1981-1984
Hannah marks history as the first woman chancellor in the University of Wisconsin System. As a woman leader, she encouraged more women faculty and continued the efforts of previous chancellors. These efforts included more international opportunities, research, and expanded the honors program (UWEC, n.d.-d).
Larry G. Schnack, 1984-1998
Schnack was a long-time staff member at UW-Eau Claire before his leadership as Chancellor began. Fortunately, when he became Chancellor, the university was running quite well. He was able to work on the curriculum as well as started a new addition to the students degree plan: assisting the community with a project and describing how they used what they learned at UWEC to help with the project (now known as service-learning) (UWEC, n.d.-d). This is still required of every UW-Eau Claire student and is very successful!
Donald J. Mash, 1988-2005
The university continued to grow under the leadership of Mash. He was persistent in gaining funds for the benefit of the students as well as helped create a vision for the grounds and buildings at UWEC. He also helped students see that their monetary assistance sustained the "differential tuition program ... financing for the academic programs that made UW-Eau Claire distinctive" (UWEC, n.d.-d).
Brian L. Levin-Stankevich, 2006-2012
Levin-Stankevich started the remodeling process at UW-Eau Claire. With a new Davies Center and new education building (Centennial Hall) as well as updating Schofield Hall, the ice arena, and the McPhee recreation building. Expanding the efforts of Mash, Levin-Stankevich named the student-assisted funds as the Blugold Commitment program whereby helping to "to fund new faculty positions, provide additional financial aid, create programs that provide education beyond the traditional classroom setting, increase the four-year graduation rate and lower class size" (UWEC, n.d.-d).
James C. Schmidt, 2013-present
Schmidt began his leadership with the focus on the importance of excellence. He has continued the efforts of all previous chancellors by creating a new academic master plan, an equity, diversity and inclusivity initiative, a new liberal education curriculum, and instituting several goals in the new strategic plan. These include: "100% of students participating in two high-impact practices, 90% of our entering students retained to their sophomore year, 50% of all students graduating within four years, and 20% enrollment of students of color and elimination of the opportunity gap" (UWEC, n.d.-c). In addition, Schmidt has carried the university through the largest budget cut, $12.2 million, in its history. Schmidt instituted a voluntary separation incentive program to allow for those who were eligible to leave the university with a severance; as a result, 94 faculty and staff left the University with an additional 36 other cuts (UWEC, n.d.-b).
There are many people that deserve to be recognized as hallmarks of UW-Eau Claire's history.