Originally an extension of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Waukesha campus gained a new identity in 1972 when all such satellites around the state became UW Centers, a separate institution within the UW System. In July 1997, the Board of Regents approved a new name: University of Wisconsin Colleges. The thirteen UW Colleges offered freshman and sophomore courses and an associate degree. In 2018, the Waukesha campus became a branch campus of UW-Milwaukee. 

Like the other Colleges' campuses, UWM at Waukesha's land and buildings belong to a local government unit, in this case Waukesha County, which purchased the 86-acre campus from William J. Hughes and his wife, Blanche I. Fischer Hughes, in March 1965.

Assuming its share of responsibility, the University of Wisconsin provides faculty, staff, educational programs, technology, furnishings, libraries, and supplies. The first classes met in fall 1966 at Mt. St. Paul Seminary, because the new buildings were not ready for occupancy. In December, however, the campus opened in its current location. Buildings included Northview Hall, the Field House, and the Commons. Southview Hall opened in February 1969.  Both the Administration Building and an extension to Northview Hall, which more than doubled the size of the library, were added in 1978. The Fine Arts Center, with its 337-seat Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, was built in 1987. In 1992, a computer center, and a new entryway to Northview Hall added 5,000 square feet to the campus.

In celebration of the campus’ 30th anniversary, the Student Commons was completely remodeled. Westview Hall was dedicated on September 8, 1996 - the $5.7 million project added 20,000 square feet to the Commons and renovated an existing 29,000 square feet. Along with expanded space for the student lounge, student activities, student services and study center offices, a beautiful dining area and re-located bookstore were added.

In 2001, a new gym floor was installed in the Field House. The building was also remodeled and expanded to include 3 classrooms and a fitness center, adding 9,885 square feet.

To preserve a natural environment for educational use, Miss Gertrude Sherman donated a 92-acre Field Station, located approximately 10 miles west of the main campus, to the university in 1967. The former farm land is being restored to native prairie and woods, and it harbors the UW System’s only large wood-fired kiln and as well as a smaller one. In 2001 a 3,000-square-foot classroom building was constructed on the site. The Gertrude Sherman Building includes one general classroom and one devoted to art. Additionally, the Wildlife in Need Center will have its headquarters on the Field Station site by 2011.

Campus Deans

Stephen Schmid (Interim Dean), 2018 - present


Jackie Joseph-Silverstein, 2016 - 2018

Jackie Joseph-Silverstein


Harry Muir, 2011 - 2015

Dean Harry Muir

Patrick Schmitt 2006 - 2010

Dean Patrick Schmitt

Jane Crisler, Interim Dean - 2005 & 2010-2011

Jane Crisler, Interim Dean

Brad Stewart 1999-2005

Dean Brad Stewart

Mary Knudten 1981-1999

Dean Mary Knudten

Gordon Goodrum (Acting Dean due to Oliver's Illness) 1979 to 1981

Acting Dean, Gordon Goodrum

Kenneth Oliver, September 1973 to his death in February 1981

Dean Kenneth Oliver

Murray Deutsch, 1966-1972

Dean Murray Deutsch