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The Madison campus, with its 40,000 students, is among the very best public universities in America. Founded in 1849, the university is situated on 900 acres of land carved by ancient glaciers and formerly inhabited by early Native American mound building peoples. Lake Mendota, the largest of Madison's four lakes, defines the campus' northern edge and forms the backdrop for the Union Terrace, the center of campus outdoor life. One mile east lies the heart of the city and the impressive state capitol.
UW-Madison ranks in the top ten universities in the country in overall excellence and federal funding. A quarter-million living alumni contribute to research and teaching through private giving. Thirteen schools and colleges administer the activities of over 130 departments, making the university one of the nation's most comprehensive in disciplinary breadth. A superb array of campus research facilities match that breadth. See the rankings here.
The City of Madison is a culturally vibrant community of 237,000. Home of state government, light industry, high-tech research and surrounding agricultural communities, Madison has a strong economy and excellent amenities. The city's natural beauty invites all types of outdoor recreation, from swimming, boating and cycling to skiing, ice fishing and skating. Hundreds of city leagues are organized for every sport. The country's oldest campus recreational club, Hoofer's, rents sailboats, canoes, kayaks and other equipment and organizes outings of all kinds for students and non-members. Music, theater, dance, film, outdoor festivals and farmers' markets, art fairs, and bicycle, boating and track races abound. Each weekend in the summer sees a major outdoor event happening around the Capitol Square or elsewhere in the city. A 3,000-acre arboretum, 150 city parks and several golf courses add green space and cross-country skiing opportunities to the city environment. All these factors, coupled with low unemployment and crime, have won Madison many "best place to live" ratings over the years. See the rankings here.
Students can find abundant privately-owned rental housing within a close distance to the campus. All parts of the city are served by excellent bus routes, and many students bicycle year-round along miles of city bike paths.
See these New York Times articles about visiting Madison: My Trip to Madison: Bikes, Brews, Burgers and a B&B; 36 Hours in Madison, Wisconisin; A Peach...No, a Honey of a Farmers' Market
"If you're interested in international development, the university's reputation in agricultural economics will almost certainly guarantee you job interviews for both academic and professional jobs. And the applied economics training you'll receive is so rigorous that you can easily switch hats to other fields in applied economics, or at least quickly grasp the bottom line in even very "sophisticated" economic arguments (i.e., those containing lots of mathematical formulas). I now hire my former professors as consultants and give them a real hard time (revenge!). And summertime studying in Madison with frequent breaks to go windsurfing and have a beer on the terrace is not THAT bad!"
Rogier van den Brink, Class of 1990, Special Assistant to the Regional Vice Presidents, Africa Region, The World Bank