UW-Baraboo/Sauk County is one of thirteen freshman-sophomore campuses of the UW Colleges. The UW Colleges is one of the fifteen institutions of the UW System. The University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County opened in 1968, giving tangible form to the shared vision of its founding dean, Theodore Savides, and a group of forward looking community leaders from Baraboo and Sauk County. For the next forty years, UW-Baraboo/Sauk County has provided a warm and supportive community of teachers and learners in traditional credit courses while also offering cultural enrichment and active fine arts programming both on the campus and in the community.
In the late 1990’s, three major expansion projects occurred on the 68 acre site. Taliesen Architects designed all projects, giving the campus a distinctly Wright flair. First came the John and Murrel Lange Center, the result of an extremely generous bequest from the Langes. Their gift provided a separate building with Student Services offices and student lounges, an expanded cafeteria, an art gallery, state of the art fitness equipment, a dance studio, a gymnasium, and racquetball courts. Remaining Lange funds were a catalyst for two more major projects, also supported by another generous bequest and by funds from Baraboo and Sauk County.
Soon construction was under way on a dedicated music facility with customized practice rooms and a rehearsal hall. The James and Kathryn Hill Music Center was added to the original Fine Arts Building with a gift from the Hills’ family. Campus renovation also continued with the addition of a beautiful new wing to the classroom and administration building with more offices and classrooms to accommodate our burgeoning population of students and staff.
The faculty and staff of UW-Baraboo/Sauk County are a diverse and highly capable group. While graduate students in many large universities teach first and second year students in fundamental courses, a high proportion of the UW-Baraboo/Sauk County faculty and staff hold doctorates or other terminal degrees in their fields. They come from universities nation-wide. Faculty members have been selected for their teaching abilities and commitment to the classroom, and several faculty members have won competitive teaching awards in the UW System. On student evaluations, students frequently identify one professor or another on our faculty as “the best teacher I have ever had.” The majority of the faculty are also engaged in their disciplines, and a number have active research programs.
Although the campus was built to serve approximately 300 students, now approximately eighty faculty and staff serve about 650 students, including not only recent high school graduates (mostly from a six county area), but also many returning adult students, who have their own club, The Vintage Spirits. They are often among the most successful students, and they provide an additional dimension of enrichment for traditional age students. So do auditors, and Wisconsin residents over 60 can audit many courses free. This UW System-wide policy resulted from the suggestion of a UW-Baraboo/Sauk County faculty member nearly forty years ago, and hundreds throughout Wisconsin have benefitted. One student in her 90’s has taken nearly every course on the Baraboo campus, some of them more than once, saying she loves to sample different points of view from various instructors.
In addition to the a liberal arts Associate Degree, the campus offers collaborative UW bachelor’s degrees in selected fields through cooperative programs with other institutions in the University of Wisconsin System, allowing students to take all four years of their course work at UW Baraboo/Sauk County. Students can even complete a master’s degree from collaborative institutions in the University of Wisconsin System.
Key components of the campus’s cultural programming and outreach are diverse Continuing Education classes and a tantalizing range of exhibitions and performances in the arts, including regular art exhibits and the outdoor Summerset Theatre on campus, and the immensely popular Concerts on the Square series in historic downtown Baraboo.
But our influence doesn’t stop in downtown Baraboo. From 1974 to 2009, we provided college courses in the Federal Correctional Institution at Oxford, a medium security facility an hour north of Baraboo, awarding many students one year certificates in Computer Sciences and Business, and some of them two year Associate degrees in Arts and Sciences. For more than thirty years, our program there served as a national model for post-secondary arts and sciences education in the Federal Bureau of Prisons correctional system.
UW-Baraboo/Sauk County is a place of vibrant contrasts and diverse resources. Just as the campus helps define the community, the community helps define the campus. While the UW-Baraboo/Sauk County community shares resources with the flagship UW institution barely an hour away in Madison, the Baraboo area itself offers a wide range of cultural and natural resources. Within just a few miles, students, faculty, and staff can experience the Baraboo Bluffs with Devil’s Lake State Park and its distinctive glacial geology, the Wisconsin River with the picturesque formations of the Wisconsin Dells, the world famous International Crane Foundation, and the unique cultural heritage of the Ho Chunk Nation. Baraboo is also the birthplace of the Ringling Brothers Circus and home to Circus World Museum with the world’s largest collection of restored circus wagons. Nearby Fairfield Township is home to Aldo Leopold’s famous shack , the Aldo Leopold Foundation’s new Aldo Leopold Legacy Center, and the surroundings which inspired Leopold’s legendary land ethic.
The Leopold Legacy Center building received the highest LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating of any building in the world. Similarly, the innovative UW-Baraboo/Sauk County is also going green with another major building project, a $15.5 million Living and Learning Center which also focuses on Leopold’s principles of environmental stewardship and sustainable energy in a global society. Our goal is to exceed LEED platinum standards and achieve a zero net energy status for the building. Many of our students embrace the green mantra and have formed a Green Club. Meanwhile, in April 2009, UW-Baraboo/Sauk County received a Shared Savings award from Alliant Energy for sustainable energy-savings on campus in recognition of a boiler replacement project that significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions along with an annual savings of over $20,000 on its energy bill.
Throughout the community and beyond, the influence of the UW-Baraboo/Sauk County Campus resonates. We welcome new students, faculty, staff, and friends to find their own vision of the future here with us.