Wisconsin Gov. Warren Knowles authorized a four-year university for Northeastern Wisconsin when, on Sept. 2, 1965, he signed Senate Bill 48, with Green Bay area elected officials Robert Warren, Jerome Quinn, Cletus Vanderperren and civic leaders John Borgenson and Rudy Small looking on in approval.
The 1965 creation of UW-Green Bay culminated a community campaign bubbling since at least 1958, when then-Gov. Gaylord Nelson entertained the possibility of a new regional university. At that time, Green Bay already had its own two-year UW center, “Cardboard Tech,” located in a World War II ordnance building near East High School since the late 1940s. By 1961, when the new $1.3 million Extension building opened on Deckner, the two-year Green Bay Center (enrollment 500) was the second-largest of UW-Extension’s eight freshman-sophomore feeder centers, and the fastest growing, on pace to reach nearly 1,000 by the mid-1960s.
The Brown County Board of Supervisors, in 1963, petitioned the Regents to locate a campus at Green Bay. By the following spring, a Green By Area Chamber of Commerce committee headed by Small was collecting data on the region’s unmet demand for higher education. John “Jake” Rose, president of Kellogg Bank, led efforts behind the scenes to acquire land and raise private funds.