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On February 5, the University of Wisconsin–Madison celebrates Founders’ Day, one of its two birthdays. The first, July 26, 1848, marks the incorporation of the University of Wisconsin. Founders’ Day is the second, more practical birthday: the day the university held its first classes in 1849. Based on this founding date, the UW has held 173 years’ worth of classes. According to’s list of 1,765 four-year universities accredited in the United States, the UW is the 198th oldest university in the country. Universities that top the list, such as Harvard and William & Mary, were founded in the 1600s. Within the Big Ten, the UW loses some of its seniority; it’s really more of a middle sibling as the fifth oldest of the 14 schools. Of course, age is just a number. The UW consistently ranks toward the top in terms of research, reputation, and campus climate when compared nationally and globally.

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