Rendering of the proposed Letters & Science Academic Building

Letters & Science Academic Building

Reinvesting in the Heart of UW

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is planning to build a new Letters & Science (L&S) Academic Building to better serve the educational needs of a growing undergraduate population. This forward-looking space will support enrollment growth in high-demand fields, modernize the student learning experience, and build research connections on campus.

As the largest of UW–Madison’s 13 schools and colleges, L&S produces well-rounded, critical-thinking students ready to tackle challenges in business and society. More than 4,000 students earned an L&S degree last year, joining the ranks of more than 220,000 L&S living alumni.

L&S coursework provides the foundation of the UW educational experience. In fact, nearly two-thirds of all undergraduate credit hours come from L&S.

An Aging Building, a Plan for the Future

L&S coursework is the foundation of the UW educational experience, comprising nearly two-thirds of all undergraduate credit hours. Unfortunately, the Humanities Building — one of campus’ biggest buildings and a primary home for many L&S classes — is in dire condition and is failing to support student needs. Its many defects and deficiencies make it inadequate for modern learning today and into the future.

L&S Fast Facts


220,000+ Living Alumni
20,000+ L&S Students
37 Schools and Academic Departments
84 L&S Majors
Most Popular Majors: Biology, Economics, Computer Science, Psychology
3.96 Years Average Time to Degree
$125 Million+ Total Research Expenditures

A Necessary Investment

The Humanities Building can no longer effectively support student and campus needs

  • The Humanities Building is one of the largest classroom and office buildings on campus. Over 70,000 credits were taught in its classrooms last year covering 60 different departments and thousands of students. The coursework taken in its classrooms are the foundation for many UW majors, from History to Computer Science, to Engineering and Business.
  • The building is in terrible shape and will continue to deteriorate. Water damage is widespread. Concrete is degrading. Reinforced steel is exposed and rusting. Windows are leaking. Handrails do not comply with current code requirements. Classrooms have minimal AV support and limited options for active learning. Maintenance costs are increasingly expensive.
  • Deferred maintenance is conservatively estimated at $70 million. Even if these issues were addressed, the building would remain substandard relative to current building code.

The new building provides a much-needed reinvestment in state-of-the-art learning spaces for UW students

  • Very few general assignment classrooms have been built on campus since 1972. New classrooms are needed to support increases in undergraduate enrollment, enhanced student engagement, and improved student success outcomes.
  • Employers overwhelmingly endorse the broad learning and preparation L&S students receive. It’s why SuccessWorks, L&S’s career center, has expanded to accommodate talent demands from major national and Wisconsin-based employers.
  • An investment in learning environments has been shown to positively impact student performance, vital to preparing students for the workforce.

Project Overview


  • Cost: $88.44 Million ($65.36 million GFSB, $23.08 million gifts)
  • Creates 23,700 sq. feet of backfill space to support STEM enrollment
  • Consolidates programs from seven locations into one building

The new Letters & Science Academic Building is a reinvestment in the foundation of a UW-Madison education and the future of Wisconsin's workforce.

Support the Project

To learn more about how you can support the L&S Academic Building in Wisconsin's 2021-2023 budget, become a UW advocate or contact UW-Madison State Relations.