HISTORY AND MISSION
The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse was founded in 1909 as a state normal school for the training of teachers. Over the decades that original purpose has been retained and strengthened. The University has provided, and continues to provide, training for hundreds of
elementary, middle and high school teachers.
In 1913, teacher training in physical education was authorized as a specialty at La Crosse. The physical education program quickly expanded and its reputation grew to the extent that it became virtually synonymous with the school itself. Today, it is not unusual to find UW-L graduates serving as physical education teachers, sport managers and trainers, health educators, fitness leaders, recreation specialists and coaches throughout the United States and beyond.
School at La Crosse responded to changing times by assuming new roles as well as a series of new names. In 1927, it became a State Teachers College with authority to grant four-year teaching degrees. A generation later, in 1951, a division of Letters and Sciences was added and the name changed to Wisconsin State College at La Crosse. As divisions evolved into colleges and master's degree programs were added, in 1964 the institution became the Wisconsin State University at La Crosse. The merger of all Wisconsin state universities into the University of Wisconsin System in 1971 gave the institution its present name: The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
Today, UW-L is a campus of more than 9,000 students of diverse ages and backgrounds enrolled in over 50 undergraduate programs and approximately 20 graduate programs. Under the leadership of the Chancellor, the University is organized into four colleges: the College of Liberal Studies, which includes the School of Arts and Communication; the College of Science and Allied
Health; the College of Business Administration; and the
College of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and
Teacher Education. As part of the University of Wisconsin System, the La Crosse campus gets broad policy direction from the President of the System and a governing Board of Regents.
The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Foundation, Inc., was created in 1967. The Foundation helps the University raise funds and administers and disburses dollars to support programs and activities that further the mission of the University. The Foundation establishes policy and allocates resources in cooperation and consultation with the Chancellor, faculty and staff. Gifts to the Foundation are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law (as applied to the circumstances of each donor) and are used for scholarships, faculty development, academic enrichment programs and to assist many ongoing University and Foundation programs.
At the beginning of 1987, UW-La Crosse Scholarships, Inc., formerly the La Crosse State College Foundation, was merged with the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Foundation, Inc., creating a single charitable arm of the University for the administration of scholarships. Later that same year, the State College Student Welfare Association also merged with the Foundation, which now oversees the short-term emergency student loan program.
The Foundation is governed by an elected, volunteer, 36-member Board of Directors who serve without compensation, meet three times a year (January, May and September) and function through
a structure of nine standing committees: Executive, Investment,
Development, Grants Review, Finance & Compensation, Nominating, Publicity, Cleary Alumni & Friends Center and Scholarship. The officers of the corporation are the Chair of the Board, Vice-Chair of the Board, President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer. The Chair of the Board of Directors is the organization's chief volunteer and principal executive officer. The professional staff is headed by the President of the Foundation. In addition to attending Board meetings, the duties of each Board member include serving on at least one standing committee, participating in the life of the University by attending events, and supporting the university in both word and
deed, including financial contributions. Board members represent
diverse backgrounds including community, business and professional leaders, parents, faculty, staff and distinguished alumni and friends from Wisconsin and beyond.
Relationship To The University
The Foundation is a private corporation separate from the University, although the only reason for its existence is to conduct activities for the benefit of the institution. It is a common pattern throughout the University of Wisconsin System, as well as nationally, that such charitable foundations, tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, exist in conjunction with public universities. Reasons for this special relationship:
While at many larger institutions foundations are largely
independent of university administration, La Crosse follows the more integrated model found on smaller campuses where the University's chief development and advancement officer also heads the Foundation's professional staff. At La Crosse, this individual is the President of the Foundation and is a non-voting, ex-officio member of the Board of Directors and all of its committees. As President, this individual answers to the Foundation's Board of Directors and, as the University's chief development and advancement officer, is accountable to the Chancellor.
- the Foundation provides fund access, management and flexibility to take advantage of opportunities, which might otherwise be missed because of the limits of state appropriations, student tuition and fees or other University
- the Foundation can protect donor-contributed dollars from control by either the State Legislature or Board of
Regents so that the fate of these funds is decided in and for La
- the Foundation's donor records are confidential and not
subject to public or governmental scrutiny under "open records" laws; and
- perhaps most significantly, the Foundation provides an
opportunity for greater volunteer involvement with the University by friends and alumni from throughout the community, state and
UW-L, like most colleges and universities, maintains an Alumni Office, which is under the direction of the University's chief development and advancement officer. The Alumni Office provides professional staff and support for the UW-L Alumni Association, which is a separate non-profit, tax-exempt organization governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, funded through membership dues and special revenue-producing projects and dedicated to maintaining communication, interest, participation and services with University alumni. The UW-L Foundation and the UW-L
Alumni Association maintain a close and cooperative relationship,
working together on many projects for alumni and friends that help and promote the University. To distinguish between the two, it is often said that the Alumni Association does "friend raising" while the Foundation does "fund raising." Both programs are essential to the health of a strong university.