Annual address, dedication kick off a new school year

Centennial Hall dedication ceremonyChancellor Joe Gow kicked off the new school year with his annual All-University Address Aug. 31, in Lindner Forest with UW-L’s new Centennial Hall in the backdrop. The address was followed by a dedication of the building, which is the first new academic building in 35 years on campus.

“This is a wonderful day for us; it’s very historic,” Gow told a crowd of nearly 800 people on Lindner Forest for the special occasion under clouds and 69 degrees.

Gow noted that it has been “a very interesting time” since he addressed the university in January. Despite an overhaul of state employee benefits and millions of dollars in cuts to UW-L, “I’m happy to say we’ve weathered it pretty well” he said.

A total of 74 employees retired in the past year, with around 2,022 years of service. “Many of these folks still support UW-L,” Gow said.

“They helped to make UW-L the great place it is today.”

Enrollment remains “very, very strong,” he said, with 1,965 new students expected when classes begin Sept. 6. “We are well over our target,” he noted.

Various speakers talked about Centennial Hall, including a UW-L alumnus who gave the lead gift to the project, Duncan Cameron, ’69. Duncan and his wife, Dianne, have their names on the Hall of Nations inside the new building.

“It’s unfortunate that they were fundraising for this building during a bad time for our nation’s economy,” says Duncan. “It made me believe that, more than ever, it was important to give a large gift to encourage others to give similarly large amounts.”

Duncan says it was former Chancellor Doug Hastad who initially sparked his interest in giving to the project. And, as he and Dianne sat inside the grand entryway to the facility, they agreed that it has been fun to watch the concept come into fruition.

“It’s very gratifying to see all the smiles around here,” says Dianne. “Everyone is so excited about what this means for the future of the university and La Crosse.”

Gow also highlighted the following:

  • The UW-L Foundation completed its $36 million Centennial Campaign this summer.
  • GI Jobs magazine has declared UW-L a “Military Friendly School” for the second year in a row.
  • UW-L student-athletes for the 10th year in a row captured the highest GPA in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with a 3.2 average, which is also higher than the general student body.
  • Karla Stanek, director of Career Services and the Academic Advising Center, has been named by peers to receive the 2011 Academic Staff Excellence Award.