Brick by Brick
The Founding and Construction of UW-Green Bay
By Jessie Lee
The Cofrin Library sits directly in the center of University of Wisconsin-Green Bay campus. From the windows of the eighth floor the entire campus can be seen from a bird's eye view.
Leaving the elevator, there is a clear view of the bay of Green Bay and the western edge of the campus. Another window view looks out over housing and the University Union, and the people walking, strolling and occasionally running to class.
Looking out over these views it is hard to believe that just 40 years ago this land, now the bustling campus of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, was just farm fields and old farm buildings on the outskirts of Green Bay. Now it is an active campus with more than 6,500 students.
What did Ed Weidner, the university's founding chancellor, envision when he first thought of UW- Green Bay? What did the land that became the campus look like before there was the Cofrin Library and Mary Ann Cofrin Hall? And how does this reality compare to what Ed Weidner wanted?
Governor's OK to have the University in Green Bay
In September 1965, Wisconsin Gov. Warren Knowles signed an agreement that the state would create two new four-year campuses. There would be one in the Racine/Kenosha area and one in Northeast Wisconsin. The question was where in Northeast Wisconsin it would be. Dan Spielmann, current assistant to the chancellor at the UW-Green Bay, said the possible sites for the new university were Appleton or Green Bay.
The paper mill businesses were an influential incentive for the campus being in Green Bay. According to Chris Sampson, director of university communications, there was a connection with the local community and the university. Business and civic leaders fought hard for a four-year university in Green Bay.
After a 5-3 vote in Wisconsin Congress, the University of Wisconsin System and other state organizations were authorized to proceed with campus planning.
After the state committee decided that the campus would be in Green Bay, the debate then turned to where in the city the campus would be. The choice was between the west side of Green Bay, where Northeast Wisconsin Technical College stands now, or on the northeast side of Green Bay. The planning committee finally determined that it would be on the northeastern side of the city.
"It was a big battle," Spielmann said. "A lot of people did not want it way out in the boondocks." The fact there was so much room and it was so far "out in the boondocks" was part of Ed Weidner's vision.
"He wanted lots of room and space," Spielmann said. The state bought half of the Shorewood Golf Course land—9 holes to be exact—much of the surrounding farmland, and now UW-Green Bay is located on those 700 acres. Read more...