The University of Wisconsin–Parkside was created by an act of the Wisconsin legislature in 1965. UW–Parkside was created in July 1968 when the University of Wisconsin combined two-year UW centers in Kenosha and Racine. UW–Parkside broke ground for the new campus in November 1967 and accepted its first on-site students in fall 1969. In 1971, when the University of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin State Universities merged, UW–Parkside became part of the University of Wisconsin System. The University has had six permanent Chancellors: Irvin G. Wyllie (1966–74), Alan Guskin (1975–85), Sheila Kaplan (1986–93), Eleanor J. Smith (1994–97), John P. Keating (1998–2008), and Deborah L. Ford (2009–present). The first students graduated from UW–Parkside in June 1970. Since then, more than 21,000 students have earned degrees.
UW–Parkside is a complex of modern buildings with the main academic buildings connected by an indoor walkway. The original buildings, constructed between 1967 and 1976, occupy a small portion of the 700-acre (283 ha) campus, which lies in Kenoshacounty. Designed by Hellmuth, Obata Kassabaum of St. Louis in the late 1960s, the low-profile design helps the campus complex blend in with its natural surroundings. The campus is made up of 15 buildings, including Wyllie Hall, Greenquist Hall, Molinaro Hall, Tallent Hall, the Rita Tallent Picken Regional Center for Arts and Humanities, the Student Center, the Sports & Activity Center, Ranger Hall, University Apartments, and Pike River Suites. Recent renovations and expansions to the Sports & Activity Center completed in September 2000, the Student Center completed in January 2008, and the Rita Tallent Picken Regional Center for Arts and Humanities completed in January 2012, along with the newly constructed Pike River Suites completed in September 2010 were constructed in a manner that blends seamlessly into the existing campus.
The campus has hundreds of acres of restored prairies, mature oak and maple forests and a meandering creek. The university also owns hundreds of acres of off-campus nature preserves in Kenosha and Racine counties.
UW–Parkside is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II and the Great Lakes Valley Conference. It is the only NCAA Division II school in Wisconsin. Varsity sports for men and women are soccer, basketball, track, and cross country. Men's varsity sports are baseball, wrestling and golf. Women's varsity sports are softball and volleyball. Highly successful club sports include rugby men and women, and football for men.
UW-Parkside's nickname mascot is the Rangers. The university's mascot, depicted by a brown bear in a Parkside jersey, is Ranger Bear. In January 2011 Ranger Bear qualified for the first time for the Universal Cheer Association Mascot Nationals, where he took third place.