Established in Wisconsin’s state constitution of 1848 and funded initially by a federal land grant, the University of Wisconsin (“the UW,” also called Wisconsin University or Wisconsin State University in the early years) enrolled its inaugural class of seventeen (male) students in 1849, holding its first classes in the Madison Female Academy. Bascom Hall opened in 1859.
From two faculty members in 1850 (including the chancellor), the UW’s faculty had by 1856 reached its full complement of eight professors, including one who headed the Normal (or teaching) Department. The first published curriculum in 1851 was largely classical, featuring classes on mathematics and ancient history and literature, although upperclassmen could also elect to take more “practical” courses in chemistry, international law, and political economy.
Sources: L&S History, College of Letters and Science; Merle Curti and Vernon Cartensen, The University of Wisconsin: A History, 1848-1925, vol. 1 (1949), 37, 78, 82-83; Jim Feldman, “Bascom Hall,” The Buildings of the University of Wisconsin (1997), 23.