Historical Timeline

Carroll University, often called Wisconsin's pioneer college, is the first four-year institution of higher education in the state. In 1841, settlers living in the Wisconsin Territory community of Prairieville established the academy that five years later would become Carroll College. Soon after its founding, Carroll affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and adopted the motto, "Christo et Litteris," which means "for Christ and Learning." Carroll was chartered by the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature on Jan. 31, 1846, two years before Wisconsin became a state. On May 10, 2008, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to change the institution's name to Carroll University, effective July 1, 2008.



  • Carroll hosts its first-ever TEDx in October. The successful event brings unique ideas from students, faculty and keynote speakers. 
  • University opens a new Veterans House at 125 Wright Street as a resource for all military and veteran students. 
  • Carroll purchases two properties adjacent to campus from the School District of Waukesha. 




  • Carroll has second-largest class in history.
  • Esports program to begin in fall 2020.
  • Carroll admits 14-year-old first year student.
  • School of Business Names Hamid Akbari, Ph.D., new dean.
  • Carroll announces new master of science in nursing degree with a clinical nurse educator focus.
  • Carroll receives record $5.5 million gift from Bill Yersin estate.
  • Sister Helen Prejean, author of “Dead Man Walking,” speaks at Founders' Day.
  • Carroll indoor track athlete Grant Marton earns prestigious four-time All-American honors in NCAA Division III.
  • Carroll student-athlete David Lembke becomes the NCAA Division III national champion in the high jump.
  • Hastad Hall wins award for innovative design from the U.S. Green Building Council Wisconsin.
  • Rankin Hall receives award for excellence in architectural preservation City of Waukesha landmarks commission.
  • Carroll University announces it will partner with St. Joseph Medical Clinic on Waukesha clinic for the underserved.


  • Dr. Cindy G. Gnadinger is inaugurated as the 15th president of Carroll University on March 16.
  • Carroll’s School of Business adds an Emerging Leaders MBA to its program options. The curriculum is designed for early career professionals who have been identified as future leaders by their organizations. 
  • Doug and Nancy Hastad Hall opens for the start of the spring semester in January. The building is home to the nursing, physics/engineering and exercise science programs and provides space for other academic classroom needs.​
  • Carroll adds strength and conditioning as an emphasis to its Master of Science in Exercise Physiology program. The accelerated, 15-month curriculum gives students access to state-of-the-art exercise science laboratories in Doug and Nancy Hastad Hall and Ganfield Gymnasium.


  • Dr. Cindy Gnadinger is named the 15th president of Carroll University. She becomes the first woman to serve in the role.
  • The School of Business is established and Dr. Steven Bialek is appointed as dean.
  • New Hall is renamed Shirley Hilger Hall to honor beloved former director of admissions, Shirley Hilger '43.
  • Carroll University and the Medical College of Wisconsin partner on an articulation agreement that enables Carroll undergraduates to be accepted into the PharmD program as sophomores and be admitted if they maintain progression standards. 


  • The 44,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, Michael and Mary Jaharis Science Laboratories opens. It is the first new academic building to be constructed on campus in more than 50 years and is also the school’s only gift and grant funded structure.
  • Lowry Hall is demolished in preparation for a new academic building. The new facility will house the nursing, physics/engineering and exercise science programs as well as provide space for other academic classroom needs for Carroll students and faculty.
  • The Prairie Springs Environmental Education Center is dedicated.
  • The athletics program returns to compete in the esteemed College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW).
  • Carroll’s official magazine, Pioneer, is rebranded as F1RST, The Magazine of Carroll University. The magazine puts a fresh spin on stories about campus life, updates on alumni and in-depth features connecting the accomplishments of Carroll alumni, faculty and staff to today’s headlines.


  • Maxon Hall is demolished in preparation for a new science facility to be built.
  • Men’s and women’s lacrosse teams begin competing in spring, increasing the number of Carroll’s NCAA sponsored athletic programs from 20 to 22.
  • As part of a campus-wide rebranding process, Carroll’s institutional logo is updated and implemented across campus.
  • The Occupational Therapy Program begins.
  • Purchased two years earlier and renovated for use by the community, Haertel Field is officially opened in the fall.
  • Renovations are completed in Van Male Field House and the facility is re-opened for the fall semester.


  • A satellite YMCA opens in the street level of Frontier Hall.
  • Master’s degrees in graphic communication and exercise physiology are offered beginning in the fall semester.
  • Prairie Hall, a 128-bed student resident hall, opens at College and Grand Avenues.


  • A $4 million gift from the estate of George Richter honors his late wife, Gladys McKay Richter '36 and will be used for nursing scholarships, an endowed chair in nursing and support for health sciences programs.


  • In June, the first class in the new physician assistant studies program begins.
  • Frontier Hall, a 231-bed residence hall, opens on Grand Avenue. Pi Lambda Phi fraternity is established.
  • A plaza is built between Otteson Theatre, Shattuck Music Center and Van Male Field House.


  • Carroll initiates its chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, an interdisciplinary scholastic honor society, inducting 15 charter members and 49 undergraduate and graduate students.
  • The first phase of an extensive campus wide 15-year exterior renovation begins with the installation of a knee wall on Main Lawn and addition of a compass/medallion in front of Main Hall.
  • Carroll begins offering classes in its new Master of Business Administration program.
  • The Carroll University Graduate Center opens on Waukesha's east side.
  • Carroll University and Rosalind Franklin University partner on an articulation agreement that enables Carroll undergraduates to be accepted into the PharmD program and be admitted if they maintain progression standards.​


  • In March, the Washington, D.C., Federal Circuit Court rules that Carroll University faculty do not have a right under federal law to form a union.
  • Carroll and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee form a partnership that will provide opportunities for students to earn degrees in engineering in Waukesha County.
  • The Carroll campus goes tobacco-free in July.
  • Carroll and Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science sign an agreement to offer a dual-degree program in pharmacy.
  • The Volunteer Center begins with a three-year AmeriCorps* VISTA grant.


  • Carroll College is renamed Carroll University, effective July 1, after a unanimous decision by the Board of Trustees in May.
  • The Dennis Punches Track and Field Complex is dedicated on August 26. Pioneer Hall, a new 264-bed residence hall, opens.
  • Carroll and the University of Wisconsin-Platteville sign a partnership agreement to offer an engineering degree program.


  • Dr. Douglas N. Hastad is inaugurated as the 14th president on April 19.
  • The $2.1 million Quad/Graphics Team Center opens in June.
  • The Building Champions Campaign, which raised $4.8 million ends successfully in September.
  • The Pioneer Scholars program, an undergraduate research program, begins.
  • The men's soccer team wins its first Midwest Conference season championship, captures the MWC tournament title and advances to the NCAA tournament.
  • Men’s basketball competes in Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA championship.


  • The women's basketball team wins its first Midwest Conference Championship.
  • After a national search, Dr. Douglas N. Hastad is selected as Carroll's 14th president; his term begins July 1.
  • Carroll is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission to offer an entry-level doctor of physical therapy degree.


  • Carroll receives a $120,464 federal grant to support the college's Hispanic Health and Human Services program.
  • Carroll receives a $559,450 federal grant to recruit and educate Hispanic students in nursing.
  • Carroll establishes the Institute for Hispanic Health and Human Services. Dennis Punches, class of 1958, pledges $1 million to build an outdoor track along Grand Avenue.
  • First Celebrate Carroll held. The now annual event celebrates and highlights the academic and scholarly achievements of Carroll students and faculty.


  • Schneider Stadium is dedicated at Homecoming. The $1.25 million project, made possible through a gift from James ’74 and Debi Schneider, includes an artificial playing surface and lights.


  • Main Hall, Carroll’s signature building and a historic landmark, opens for public tours at commencement after a yearlong, $4 million renovation. Board of Trustees Chairman Thomas Badciong ’62 and his wife Jean provide the lead gift of $1.5 million for the project.


  • Renovation begins on Main Hall.
  • The new Ted Baker court is dedicated in Van Male Field House. Baker, a 1971 Carroll graduate, provided major funding for the project.
  • Carroll launches its own four-year baccalaureate program in nursing.


  • The Gateway Campaign, with a goal of $25 million (originally $18 million), is completed. The campaign raised $36.7 million for capital improvements, endowment and operating support.


  • Carroll begins offering a master’s degree in software engineering.


  • The library is renovated with the help of a grant from the Todd Wehr Foundation.
  • MacAllister Hall, a historic home formerly called Morgan Manor, reopens after a full-scale renovation funded, in large part, by Pershing E. ’40 and Becky MacAllister.


  • Carroll celebrates its sesquicentennial.
  • The Physical Therapy graduate program begins.
  • Humphrey Memorial Chapel and Art Center opens.


  • Construction begins on the Humphrey Memorial Chapel and Art Center.


  • Frank S. Falcone becomes president and will hold office until 2006.
  • The Master in Education is accredited.


  • A. Paul Jones serves as acting president for the 1992-1993 school year.
  • Carroll and the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha sign an agreement that enables UWW graduates to complete their degrees at Carroll.


  • New Hall dorm opens.
  • Phi Theta Pi house is destroyed by fire.
  • With a generous gift from the late R. Jack Sneeden ’50 and his wife, Cherrill Swart Sneeden ’50, the college begins restoration of the Sneeden House, a magnificent 1922 colonial home now used as a guesthouse and conference center.


  • Two faculty awards – the Norman and Louise Alhiser Award for Teaching Excellence and the Benjamin F. Richason Faculty Award – are awarded by the university for the first time. 


  • Dan C. West becomes president and will hold office until 1992.


  • U.S. News & World Report ranks Carroll among America’s best colleges.
  • The education editor at the New York Times includes Carroll in "The Best Buys in College Education."



  • The nursing program begins.


  • A computer center is constructed in Main Hall.


  • Ganfield Gymnasium undergoes renovation.


  • Otteson Theatre and the Walter Young Center are dedicated.


  • The Mary Robertson Williams Chair in English is established.
  • Senior guard Dave Shaw makes basketball history as Carroll’s all-time leading scorer with more than 2,500 points in his four-year career. He is the nation’s leading scorer in NCAA Division III.


  • New cultural experience program begins.
  • Van Male Field House is dedicated and the tennis courts are constructed.


  • Rankin Hall is renovated. The Frank G. James addition to the library is expanded.


  • Evening session programs begin.
  • Carroll’s geography department is accepted as a reporting weather station to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.



  • Main Hall is renovated.
  • The W. Norman FitzGerald Civil War Collection is dedicated.


  • Robert V. Cramer becomes president. He will hold office until 1988.


  • The Howard T. Greene Scientific Study and Conservancy Area is gifted to the college.
  • The college art studios are constructed.


  • A dormitory, later to be named for Jean W. Kilgour, a member of the Carroll faculty for 43 years, opens.


  • John T. Middaugh becomes president and will hold office until 1970.
  • The first January Term program is held.
  • Shattuck Chapel and Music Center, named for trustee and college architect Frank C. Shattuck, opens.
  • Ground is broken for Charles Street Hall. 


  • The 4-1-4 academic calendar begins.
  • Voorhees Dormitory is renovated to house administrative and faculty offices.
  • North Bergstrom Hall opens.


  • Frank G. James addition to the library is built.
  • Construction of Van Male Field House begins, funded as a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Olive J. Van Male in memory of their son James R. Van Male of the class of 1954.


  • A dormitory, later to be named for Robert D. Steele, opens.


  • Maxon Hall, named for Howard L. Maxon of the class of 1886, is dedicated.


  • South Bergstrom Hall opens.


  • The student union, now known as the Campus Center, opens.
  • Swarthout Dormitory, named for trustee Susan B. Swarthout, opens.


  • Robert D. Steele becomes president. He will hold office until 1967.
  • Alpha Gamma Delta sorority is founded May 17.


  • The first Founders' Day Convocation is observed and members of the faculty Twenty-Five Year Club are recognized.


  • Lowry Hall, named in honor of trustee James K. Lowry, is dedicated Oct. 22.


  • The Century, a student literary publication, first begins publication.
  • Chi Omega sorority is founded Sept. 18. Alpha Xi Delta sorority is founded shortly after on Sept. 25.


  • Delta Zeta, the first national sorority on Carroll’s campus, is founded Oct. 10.


  • The college holds its Centennial Celebration.
  • Nelson Vance Russell becomes president and will hold office until 1951.
  • The Waukesha Symphony Orchestra is founded with Carroll sponsorship.


  • The college purchases the old Caples Sanatorium at the corner of east College and Racine Avenues for men’s housing.


  • Campus becomes the home of the Army Air Corps. Two hundred men are housed in the Voorhees Dormitory.
  • The Carrier Memorial Library is dedicated on May 17.


  • Evening courses for adults begin.


  • Gerrit T. Vander Lugt becomes president. He will hold this office until 1946.
  • Students are now required to attend only two of the originally required five chapel services each week.


  • E. Ben Weinke is hired as the first admission counselor.
  • First All-school Sing is held May 4.


  • Two cooperative programs begin: faculty from Milwaukee's Layton School of Art come to campus a half day each week to teach, and students from Nashotah House Seminary come to Carroll for classes as part of their divinity degrees.
  • A campus chapter of the American Association of University Professors is organized.
  • Enrollment is 502, with 15 full-time and 8 part-time faculty.


  • A south wing is added to Voorhees Dormitory.
  • Pioneer Club, a men’s organization, is founded Nov. 11. It was renamed Pioneer Fraternity on Jan. 23, 1948, and transitioned to the Greek-lettered fraternity Delta Rho Upsilon in spring 1950.


  • The Andrew J. Frame Chair in Economics is established.


  • The Wilbur home on the southeast corner of East and College avenues is acquired for use as the Lydia Morgan Library (now MacAllister Hall).


  • Women and alumni are actively recruited to serve on the Board of Trustees.


  • First Moms and Dads Day (later, Parents Weekend) is held.
  • The gymnasium, later to be named for William Arthur Ganfield, is opened.


  • Pi Kappa Delta (forensics) and Theta Alpha Phi (drama) honor societies are founded. There are the first of many honor societies to be formed in the 1920s.
  • The college band is organized.


  • President Ganfield runs an unsuccessful campaign to unseat the progressive Robert La Follette in the U.S. Senate.


  • William Arthur Ganfield becomes president and will hold the position until 1939.


  • First college sponsored dance, the Junior-Senior Prom, is held in May.


  • Eighteen separate subject departments are created on campus, each with stipulated graduation requirements and teaching a set sequence of courses on a rotating basis. There are 23 full-time and 11 part-time faculty members.


  • Delta Sigma Nu, a scholastic honor society, is established.
  • The Student Army Training Corps program is added to aid the war effort.
  • Herbert Pierpont Houghton becomes president. He holds office from 1918-1920.


  • The Student Senate is formally established with a constitution.


  • The May Day Festival begins as a yearly ritual that will last for more than two decades.


  • The first of many Washington Day Banquets is held with class skits and orations.


  • The college receives full accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Universities.
  • A four-year experiment in medical education begins with the establishment of the Carroll Medical College and affiliation with the Wisconsin College of Dentistry.
  • Frame Field is dedicated on June 16, on the site of a former limestone quarry and the present site of Schneider Stadium.
  • The first Hinakaga yearbook is published.
  • Affiliation of Wisconsin College of Physicians and Surgeons of Milwaukee with Carroll College.


  • Men’s Glee and Mandolin Club, including member Alfred Lunt, tours the state.


  • Women’s intercollegiate basketball begins.


  • Cornerstones for Rankin Hall of Science, Elizabeth Voorhees Dormitory and Ralph Voorhees Cottage are laid on June 13.
  • Beta Pi Epsilon, the first campus fraternity, is chartered.
  • The first forward pass in football history is thrown against Carroll by St. Louis University, which resulted in a final score of St. Louis, 22, Carroll, 0.


  • Wilbur O. Carrier becomes president.
  • Courses in government, economics, sociology, education and domestic science are added to the curriculum during his term as president, 1904-1917.


  • Second year of college work added, making the institution a Junior College.
  • Resignation of President Walter L. Rankin.
  • Carroll College elected by the Synod of Wisconsin as the Presbyterian Synodical College of the State.
  • Dr. Wilbur O. Carrier, of Chicago, elected President, and authorized to advance the college to a four year course.


  • Men’s intercollegiate basketball begins.


  • Construction begins on Voorhees Hall, a north wing addition to Main Hall.


  • May Nickell Rankin forms the Carroll Players, the oldest student dramatic club in the state.


  • Carroll's first endowed chair, the Voorhees Chair of Oratory, is established and will be filled for the years 1895-1931 by Dr. Rankin's eldest daughter, May Nickell Rankin. This chair will be the first of many contributions to the college by Ralph and Elizabeth Voorhees over the next 12 years, eventually totaling $254,300.


  • In the fall, the school has six faculty members, 155 students (academy and collegiate courses), with recitation exercise being the chief style of instruction.
  • Intercollegiate athletics begin with Carroll winning a football game with Marquette, 8-6 (first season record: one win, two losses and one tie).


  • One year of college work added to the curriculum.


  • Main Hall is first used for classes on January 11. The building is constructed of Waukesha limestone and designed by Chicago architect, Colonel S. V. Shipman, with a tree-lined circle drive from the street allowing horse-drawn vehicles to enter the campus.


  • Original college building is destroyed by fire on January 29. Classes continue to meet in the basement of the Presbyterian Church where Eleazar Root and John Adams Savage held classes almost 40 years before.
  • Cornerstone for the current Main Hall is laid on September 24.


  • French, history, geography and bookkeeping are added to the traditionally classical curriculum. Art, music, theater and a teacher’s department will also be added in the 1880s.


  • Carroll College Alumni Association is founded on August 23.


  • Carroll Echo (later, The Perspective) newspaper begins publication.


  • Walter L. Rankin arrives in Waukesha to become Carroll’s next president. With the exception of two short absences while the school is temporarily closed, Dr. Rankin will serve Carroll for the next 38 years as president (1866-71, 1873-79, 1881-1903), and as a professor until 1910.


  • Preparatory courses open to women for the first time. Board of Trustees appoints two acting presidents, Renssellaer B. Hammond (1863-64) and William Alexander (1864-65).


  • Carroll College’s first honorary degree is given to Henry S. McKee, minister of West Meath, Ireland.


  • Four graduates participate in Carroll College’s first commencement ceremony.


  • First college catalog is issued.


  • Carroll College Student, the first campus newspaper, begins publication.


  • On January 4, the first college building is ready for classes. It is a two-story limestone structure built on 10 acres donated to the college by Morris Cutler and Charles Dakin.
  • The Philomathean Society, a literary and debating club and Carroll’s first student organization, is founded by the freshman class of 1853-54.


  • Carroll breaks ground for first Main Hall.


  • Reverend John Adams Savage becomes the first president of Carroll College and also starts the college’s affiliation with the Presbyterian Church. Reverend Savage will hold office from 1850-63.


  • Carroll College is chartered by the Territorial Legislature on January 31, 1846, advancing the work of Prairieville Academy, founded in 1841.
  • The college opens with an enrollment of five students and two faculty, Eleazar Root and John W. Sterling.

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