Skip Navigation

UW-Madison marks 175-year anniversary with Rock County celebration

Events are part of a summer-long salute to the university and its impact on the state.

MADISON, WI (June 26, 2024) — The University of Wisconsin-Madison brought its 175th anniversary celebration to Rock County on Tuesday, showcasing the institution’s far-reaching impact and cementing its commitment to the Wisconsin Idea.

At the heart of the day’s events was a visit to SHINE Technologies, a Janesville-based company making waves in cancer treatment. Founded by UW alumnus Greg Piefer, SHINE recently unveiled “Ilumira,” a groundbreaking radioisotope designed to target cancerous tumors with unprecedented precision. “When you inject it, it targets the cancer cells only,” Piefer said during a television interview at SHINE’s facility. “The UW’s been absolutely foundational to our story here at SHINE,” Piefer added. “It was core to the ideas on which the company was created, and there’s ongoing collaboration both in the development of new medicines but also in the development of progression of nuclear fusion.”

The university’s influence extends beyond the realm of medical innovation. In nearby Milton, city officials and UW representatives gathered to celebrate their partnership through the UniverCity Year program. This collaboration has yielded tangible results, including a social media toolkit for youth and strategies to boost young voices in local government.

The Badger Veterinary Hospital in Janesville hosted an open house, spotlighting the newly expanded School of Veterinary Medicine at UW-Madison and addressing the pressing need for veterinarians in Wisconsin.

The day wasn’t all serious business, however. As the sun began to set, hundreds of alumni and community members flocked to the Rotary Botanical Gardens for a festive celebration. The air was filled with the sweet scent of Babcock ice cream, served from a vintage truck, while Bucky Badger, the university’s beloved mascot, entertained attendees young and old.

The evening concluded with a Badger Talks Live session about Wisconsin’s cranberry industry, highlighting the university’s ongoing commitment to supporting the state’s agricultural heritage.

“Today’s events in Rock County are just a snapshot of UW-Madison’s impact across Wisconsin,” said Mike Fahey of the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association. “As we celebrate 175 years, we’re not just looking back — we’re actively shaping the future of our state and beyond.”

This event was held as part of a larger summer tour. Upcoming stops are planned in Chippewa Falls/Eau Claire, Waukesha, and La Crosse. Each stop aims to highlight the unique ways in which UW-Madison collaborates with and contributes to communities across the state.

The 175th anniversary tour is a vivid reminder of the university’s enduring mission: to extend knowledge and its application beyond the boundaries of its campus, touching every corner of Wisconsin with innovation, education, and public service.

For more information on upcoming anniversary events, visit

Related News and Stories