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For the 100th time this academic year, Dempsey Hall opened its doors to faculty, staff and students at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

In 1917, the academic year began on Sept. 17–and Dempsey opened its doors to students for the first time. The 1917 academic year brought about 465 students to the then Oshkosh Normal School.

A lot has changed since 1917, according to University Archivist Joshua Ranger. One hundred years ago, there were not undergraduate degrees, but diplomas. While classes were taught by faculty–less than 50 worked on campus during those days. Additionally, there were three clerical staff positions, one engineer and one janitor. Today, it takes hundreds of faculty and staff to operate UW Oshkosh and offer students high-impact classes, research opportunities and programming.

Learn more about the history of Dempsey Hall from Ranger:


Other facts from 1917:

  • The campus had one dormitory, Oviatt House, which had space for 45, but only 12 women lived there. Generally, the school claimed, rooms with heat, light and bath privileges could be obtained for $2 per week for a shared room and $1.50 per week for a single. These rooms were usually furnished.
  • There was no tuition, per se. There were fees that covered things like text book rental, library fees and equipment. If a student pledged to teach in Wisconsin after graduating, the fee was $5 for normal teachers; the fee was $10 for industrial arts teachers per semester. There were also specific laboratory fees of $2 per class for certain classes.
  • Students entering school had to be examined by a doctor and would be prohibited from entering school if they had an active goiter, valvular heart trouble, tuberculosis, excessive limping gait, epilepsy, paralysis, convulsions or an extreme spinal deformity.
  • The Advance was the newspaper. The Quiver, which lasted until 1974, was the year book.
  • There was no spring break!