Progress 2022: Joe Gow: UW-L honors the past, works for the future | Local News

UW-La Crosse has been educating students and serving the La Crosse community since 1909.

When you’ve been around that long, you have a responsibility to both honor the past and work to create a brighter future.

Over the past year, we’ve found meaningful ways to do both.

We were thrilled this winter when the UW System Board of Regents approved our proposal to name the UW-L Center for the Arts after one of our most accomplished alumni.

Truman Lowe, ’69, was a world-renowned Ho-Chunk artist whose work has appeared everywhere from the White House, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to our very own campus art gallery.

Truman, who died in 2019, will be the first person of color with a UW-L building named in their honor. While it is long overdue, we hope this dedication inspires future generations to learn about Truman’s legacy and create their own.

We continue to be humbled by the generosity of our campus community.

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In recent months, we announced three major gifts that will touch countless students for years to come, while positioning us to meet the needs of our community.

The Paul Fleckenstein Trust gave nearly $500,000 to the La Crosse Community Foundation for the construction of a new research vessel for UW-L’s River Studies Center. This program has long been a jewel of our campus, and now, students will have a state-of-the-art vessel to enhance their education in a field critical to our community, region and state.

UW-L’s River Studies Center is getting a major boost after the Paul Fleckenstein Trust donated nearly $500,000 for the construction of a new research vessel.

UW-La Crosse photo

Additionally, Gary Jon Isakson, ’81, left a $1.3 million estate gift to create scholarships within the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities.

Finally, Bill and Yvonne Hyde, two longtime employees of UW-L, left a $2.2 million estate gift supporting the English Department and Murphy Library.

These are transformational gifts, and we’re excited to see the opportunities they unlock for our students and faculty.

Of course, the past year was also marked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While many of our operations returned to normal this year, we continued to do everything in our power to keep people safe.

This included hosting campus and community clinics that administered thousands of tests and vaccinations. We were glad to see so many people take advantage of these services, and we look forward to returning to our pre-pandemic ways of life.

UW-L also rose to the occasion last fall, when nearly 13,000 evacuees from Afghanistan were processed through Fort McCoy.

UWL sports camps at Fort McCoy

UW-L students offered youth sports camps at Fort McCoy this winter, giving child evacuees from Afghanistan a chance to burn off energy and learn new games.

UW-La Crosse photo

Our campus organized toy drives and book donations, led youth sports camps at the fort, and offered panel discussions educating the community about refugee resettlement and the conflict in the Middle East.

When our community faces a challenge, UW-L will always lend a hand.

This spring is an opportune time to reflect on the past and look ahead to the future, as we prepare for new leadership at UW System.

After nearly two years as the System’s interim president, former Gov. Tommy Thompson stepped down March 18. Jay O. Rothman, chairman and CEO of Foley & Lardner law firm in Milwaukee, takes office June 1.

We are indebted to Gov. Thompson for his outstanding leadership of not just UW System, but the state of Wisconsin over the past half-century. He truly was the perfect person to steer us through the pandemic.

As a member of the presidential transition committee, I have also been impressed by my early interactions with incoming President Rothman. He brings a unique skill set and extensive experience to the role. I’m confident UW System is in good hands.

At UW-L, we look forward to another year of providing transformational education, serving the community, and embracing whatever challenges and opportunities lie ahead.

Thank you for all you do to support our mission.

Joe Gow is the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.


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