Presidents of the University of Wisconsin
On October 8, 1971, eight contentious months after its introduction, Governor Patrick Lucey
signed the bill merging the University of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin
State Universities into the University of Wisconsin System (the merger became effective on October 12). John Weaver, who
had been president of the University of Wisconsin since January, became the
first president of the new system. Although merger was not completed until 1974, from 1971 on there was a president of the UW System and chancellors for the individual campuses. For a history of the merger, which had been talked about for years, see Volume 4,
Chapter 9 "The UW System Merger" of The University of Wisconsin:
A History, available electronically through the University
of Wisconsin Collection.
The University Archives holds
records from the administrations of John Weaver, Edwin Young, Robert O'Neil,
and Kenneth Shaw and contains oral
histories with John Weaver, Edwin Young, and Robert O'Neil. For the presidents
and chancellors of the University of Wisconsin prior to John Weaver, and the
chancellors of the Madison campus from 1963 on, see Chancellors and Presidents
of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
John Carrier Weaver
John Weaver was born on May 21, 1915, in Evanston Illinois. His father,
Andrew T. Weaver, was a professor of speech at Wisconsin from 1918
to 1961, and John graduated from the University of Wisconsin High School
and then received his AB (1936), AM (1937), and PhD (1942), all in geography,
from the University of Wisconsin. From 1940-1942 he was on the staff of
the American Geographical Society, from 1942-1944 a researcher for the
Division of Geography and Cartography of the U. S. Department of State,
and from 1944-1946 an Arctic intelligence officer in the Navy. Weaver
taught geography at the University of Minnesota from 1946-1955, then became
dean of the College of Arts and Science at Kansas State University (1955-1957).
He left Kansas State to become dean of the Graduate College at the University
of Nebraska (1957-1961), vice president for research and dean of the Graduate
College at the University of Iowa (1961-1964), and vice president for
academic affairs at The Ohio State University (1964-1966). From 1966 to 1970,
Weaver served as president
of the University of Missouri System. On October 27, 1970, the regents
elected Weaver president of the University of Wisconsin. and he took office
officially in January 1971. When the University of Wisconsin System was created in October of that year, Weaver became its first president. Weaver retired from UW System as
of June 30, 1977, and moved to Los Angeles where he was a distinguished
professor of geography at the University of Southern California and the
first executive director of the Annenberg Center for the Study of the
American Experience. He died in Rancho Palos Verdes, California on March
Hugh Edwin Young
H. Edwin Young was born in Bonne Bay, Newfoundland, Canada on May 3,
1917. He received his BA (1940) from the University of Maine and his
MA (1942) and PhD (1950) in economics from the University of Wisconsin.
Young began as an instructor in economics at Wisconsin in 1947 and
became a full professor in 1955. During 1951/52 he was director of the
university's School for Workers, and he chaired the Department of Economics
from 1953 until 1961 when he became dean of the College of Letters and
Science. In 1965 he left Wisconsin to become president
of the University of Maine. In July 1968 Young returned to Wisconsin
as vice president of the university and professor of economics, and in
September he was appointed chancellor of the Madison campus. In July 1977, he became president of the UW
System and served in that capacity until
his retirement in January 1980. He resides in Madison.
Robert Marchant O'Neil
Robert O'Neil was born on October 16, 1934, in Boston, Massachusetts. He
received his AB (1956), AM (1957), and LLB (1961) degrees from Harvard University.
He taught law at the University of California, Berkeley from 1963 to 1967
then served as a law professor and executive assistant to the president
at SUNY-Buffalo before returning to teaching at Berkeley from 1969-71.
From 1972-1973 O'Neil was vice president and provost for academic affairs
at the University of Cincinnati, and from 1973-1975 executive vice
president for academic affairs there. In 1975 O'Neil
became vice president of the Bloomington campus of Indiana University.
In December 1979 the regents appointed O'Neil president of the University of Wisconsin System,
and he took office on February 1, 1980. In January 1985 O'Neil announced that he would leave Wisconsin
to assume the presidency of the University of Virginia as of September 1. Katharine
Lyall was acting president until Kenneth Shaw assumed office. O'Neill retired
as president at Virginia in 1990 and became the founding director of the
Thomas Jefferson Center for
the Protection of Free Expression there. Currently he is director of the center and a professor
of law emeritus at Virginia.
Kenneth Alan Shaw
Kenneth Shaw was born in Granite City, Illinois on January 31, 1939. He
received a BS from Illinois State University (1961), an EdM from the University
of Illinois (1963), and a PhD (1966) in education from Purdue University.
Shaw began his career as a teacher at Rich Township High School in Park
Forest, Illinois, then went to Illinois State University as an instructor and later
assistant to the president. From 1966 to 1977, Shaw was vice president
and dean of Towson State University. He left Towson in 1977 to become
president of Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, and in 1979
he became chancellor of the Southern Illinois University System. The Board
of Regents appointed Shaw president of the University of Wisconsin System
on September 18, 1985, and he took office on February 1, 1986. Shaw left
Wisconsin in August 1991 to become chancellor
of Syracuse University. He retired as chancellor there on July 31, 2004.
Katharine Culbert Lyall
1992 - 2004
Katharine Lyall was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania on April 26, 1941.
She received a BA in economics from Cornell University (1963), an MBA
from New York University (1965), and a PhD (1969) in economics from Cornell.
Lyall was an economist at Chase Manhattan Bank from 1963-1965, then went
to Syracuse University as an assistant professor of economics from 1969-1972. From
1972-1977 she was a professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University.
Lyall left Johns Hopkins to spend 1977-1979 as a deputy assistant secretary
for policy development and research in the Office of Economic Affairs
of the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, then returned
to Hopkins from 1979-1981 as director of the graduate program in public
policy. In 1981 Lyall became vice president for academic affairs of the
UW System, and she served as acting president in 1985/86 during the search for Robert O'Neil's successor. When Kenneth Shaw left for Syracuse in August 1991, Lyall was named
acting president, and she became president on April 1, 1992. Lyall announced
her retirement on February 4, 2004, effective September 1. She will spend the next year as a senior scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in Stanford, California. For more information on President Emeritus Lyall's administration, see the tribute page from UW System.
Kevin Patrick Reilly
On July 29, 2004, the Board of Regents approved the appointment of Kevin Reilly, chancellor of UW-Extension , as the sixth president of the UW System, to begin in September. Reilly was born on December 22, 1949, in New York City. He received a BA from the University of Notre Dame (1971) and an MA (1974) and PhD (1979) from the University of Minnesota, all in English. He was assistant director and director of the National Program on Noncollegiate Sponsored Instruction for the New York State Board of Regents from 1979-1984, director of Teaching and Beyond: Career Opportunities for PhDs from 1983-84, and director of the Division of College and University Education for the New York State Board of Regents from 1984-1992. Reilly was Associate Provost for Academic Programs for the State University of New York System from 1992 to 1996 and Interim Secretary of the SUNY System in 1995-1996. Reilly was appointed provost and vice chancellor of UW-Extension in 1996 and chancellor in 2000. For more information on President Reilly, see the University of Wisconsin System Office of the President.
Last updated: February 21, 2011
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