Back to Full List

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (2009)

Brief Description:

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse was founded in 1909 as the La Crosse Normal School. Today, it is one of the 13 four-year campuses in the University of Wisconsin System. Originally known for its nationally recognized physical education program, UW-La Crosse now offers 85 undergraduate programs in 30 disciplines, and 21 graduate programs and emphases in eight disciplines.

The compact 119-acre campus in residential La Crosse provides a vibrant place to live and learn. Enrollment has grown from 176 when the doors opened to more than 9,000. The campus embraces diversity, a commitment that has increased minority and international students, faculty and staff. Students take part in an array of organizations and community service. Intercollegiate teams compete in 19 sports and have produced 58 national championships, 24 since 2001.

The university offers much — cultural events, regional and national conferences, prominent speakers, applied research, professionals with varying expertise, a large workforce, and community volunteers. UW-La Crosse works cooperatively with the city’s other higher education institutions and area elementary and secondary schools. Also, the university led development of a consortium among the city’s higher education institutions and major health care organizations to bring cutting-edge health care and research facilities to the region.

For 100 years UW-La Crosse has been the prominent intellectual engine educating a high quality workforce for the region. The university remains proud of its regional heritage and looks forward to retaining its prominence in the area’s economic vitality.


Mission Statement:

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse provides a challenging, dynamic, and diverse learning environment in which the entire university community is fully engaged in supporting student success. Grounded in the liberal arts, UW-L fosters curiosity and life-long learning through collaboration, innovation, and the discovery and dissemination of new knowledge. Acknowledging and respecting the contributions of all, UW-L is a regional academic and cultural center that prepares students to take their place in a constantly changing world community.

President's Quote:

“We are very excited to be celebrating our 100th year! I am often reminded of our rich history as I walk past the cornerstone of Graff Main Hall, which says 1908. It stood alone in the middle of a field. On opening day, just over 150 students were enrolled in La Crosse Normal School. Today, over 9,000 students attend classes in 12 academic buildings. We are proud of our rich history at UW-L and hope you will join us to celebrate our centennial year together.” -- Joe Gow, Chancellor 

Major Accomplishments:


  • UW-La Crosse has been in the top three public Midwestern colleges in U.S. News and World Reports’ America’s Best Colleges since 2002.

  • UW-La Crosse is No. 38 among public colleges nationwide, and among only three in Wisconsin, in the most recent listing of the Kiplinger’s Top 100 best value universities.

  • A Chronicle of Higher Education report says the average debt of UW-La Crosse graduates in 2007 was $12,145, the lowest in Wisconsin.

  • UW-La Crosse is in the Top 20 colleges and universities nationwide for the proportion of students who study abroad according to the Institute of International Education — Opendoors report.

  • UW-La Crosse is No. 24 among medium colleges and universities (5,000-15,000 undergraduates) in number of Peace Corps volunteers.

  • UW-La Crosse was named the 12th fittest college in the nation according to the 2006 edition of Men’s Health and Princeton Review.


Fun Facts:

  • UW-La Crosse has a unique scholarship in honor of a local bartender, Ray George, who ran The Rustic Inn from 1944 to 1985. George, who never went to college, kept money on hand for quick loans to student customers. In 1977, a group of alumni established the annual award.

  • The Lighting of the “L” is one of UW-La Crosse’s Homecoming traditions. On a foggy fall night in 1935, Class of 1937 roommates F. Clark Carnes and Bernie Brown spent room and board money on gasoline to fire up the Homecoming crowd. They ran up 500-foot Miller’s Bluff and ignited a large brush pile in the shape of an “L.” Police sirens blaring toward the glow, they ran back down to the field as the fog lifted for the crowd to see the glowing “L.” Since then, an electric “L” has been illuminated on nearby Grandad Bluff, a city landmark, welcoming alumni returning for Homecoming.


Notable Alumni:

  • Sandra Lee, The Food Network TV show host, author
  • Don Herbert, aka Donald H. Kemske, 1940, TV’s Mr. Wizard

  • James H. Van Tassel, 1951, inventor of the handheld calculator

  • Howard Mumford Jones, 1912, 1964 Pulitzer Prize winner for “O Strange New World”

  • NFL football players: Joel Williams (Atlanta Falcons), Tom Newberry (Los Angeles Rams), Bill Schroeder (Green Bay Packers)




“My favorite part of being a UW-L student is the feeling that I have a home away from home. With a smaller campus, I have been able to grow as a person and really connect with my professors, as well as my classmates. Making friends is easy because everyone here is so nice and willing to lend an extra hand. I love the feeling of walking around campus and being able to wave to friendly faces and also being able to meet someone new almost every single day.” —James Goley, Sophomore, Oregon, Wis.

“Undergraduate research at UW-L has given me hands-on experience with laboratory equipment and the opportunity to apply what I have learned in lecture to real life research and applications. It has afforded me great one-on-one time with my mentor professor, as well as other professors in the biology department. Undergraduate research has opened up many doors and different opportunities such as a research internship at Rutgers University.” —John Awowale, Senior, Hillsboro, Wis. 

“My studies at UW-La Crosse are something I am thankful for every day in both my professional life and personal life. The skills, theories and lessons I learned in the classroom are put to work as I develop marketing plans, give presentations and work in teams as a marketing communication manager. The friends, contacts and memories made during my tenure at UW-L continue to enrich me in my personal life.” —Betsy (Francoeur) Heintz, 2004 graduate, Milwaukee 



  • Kellee Edmonds
    Vice President of Communications and Public Relations
    (202) 478-4662