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Office of Marketing and University Communication

UW-Green Bay Trivia

UW-Green Bay history, mission and little-known facts.

Campus mission and history

UW-Green Bay is distinctive within the University of Wisconsin System for its innovative academic plan characterized by problem-focused, interdisciplinary learning. This mission was set forth at the institution's founding in 1965. An in-depth look at the University's mission and history can be found online.

1965 — It was a very good year

In 1965, Frank Sinatra won a Grammy Award for best record and in Green Bay its title rang true: “It Was a Very Good Year.” The hometown Packers won the first of their unprecedented three straight world championships and on Sept. 1, Gov. Warren Knowles authorized campus construction by signing legislation to create a new, four-year university. The 1965 Room in the University Union is named for the year in which UW-Green Bay was founded.

An above-par site

An 18-hole golf course once occupied part of the site that is UW-Green Bay. When the land overlooking the lower bay was donated to the state and developed for the opening of the University in the late 1960s, nine holes were retained. They make up the existing, campus-operated Shorewood Golf Course.

1968 — Officially, first classes in ’68

UW-Green Bay offered its first classes as a four-year, bachelor’s-degree granting institution in fall 1968. Previously, dating back to the late 1940s, the University of Wisconsin had operated only a two-year, freshman-and-sophomore center in Green Bay.

Lombardi liked soccer

aerial photo of Lambeau fieldUW-Green Bay plays soccer as its primary fall sport primarily on the advice of the late Vince Lombardi. The legendary Packers coach was an athletics adviser to Chancellor Edward Weidner in the late 1960s when the new university was charting its athletics future. Lombardi advised against college football because of the relatively high cost and the likelihood that the university team would be overshadowed by the Packers.

The Phoenix

phoenix logoUW-Green Bay acquired its singular nickname, the Phoenix, as a result of a student ballot in 1970. According to mythology, upon reaching a great age, the Phoenix is consumed in flame and reborn from the ashes. The evolution of the University created with the consolidation and expansion of two-year UW centers that previously served the region helped inspire the selection of the Phoenix as the University's symbol and mascot. Legend has it that “Fighting Tomatoes” was a close second in the balloting.

A rare bird

UW-Green Bay, for many years, was the only NCAA Division I sports program — and one of the few at any level — to claim "The Phoenix" as its athletics mascot. The mythical bird was also adopted several years ago as the emblem of Elon College in North Carolina.

Tunnel city

photo of two girls in hallwayThe concourse system – known to students as “the tunnels” – offers comfort, convenience and shelter from the elements. There was an academic reason to connect major buildings, as well; planners said the design tied in with the interconnected, interdisciplinary academic plan that brings students and faculty together.

The Weidner Center

Weidner Center logoThe University’s 2,000-seat Weidner Center, regarded as one of the Midwest’s top performing arts venues, celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2003. The grand opening on Jan. 15, 1993, was marked by a community gala hosted by opera legend Beverly Sills.  

Greatest upsets

photo of women's basketball gameA win by the UW-Green Bay men’s basketball team in 1994 is still regarded by many observers as one of the great upsets in NCAA tournament play. The Phoenix pulled out an opening-round win over the California Bears led by future NBA stars Jason Kidd and Lamond Murray. A decade later, the women also made waves in the NCAA Tournament and ranked as high as 16 in the nation. Since then, an expectation for greatness continues. By 2007, the women had made their ninth appearance in the 'Big Dance,' and this time advanced to the second round with a win over New Mexico. In men’s soccer, UW-Green Bay’s proud tradition includes a 1-0 win in 1973 over a St. Louis University team then ranked No. 1 in the nation. In fall of 2007, the men beat regionally ranked Ohio State, 1-0 in overtime, and had one of their fastest starts in the history of the program.