Morrison retires after 40-year teaching career

May 6, 2011

Dianne Morrison

UW-L Senior Lecturer Dianne Morrison

When UW-La Crosse students start out in Senior Lecturer Dianne Morrison’s finance classes, they wonder if she’s speaking a foreign language. The financial lingo — phrases like “marginal tax rates,” “time value of money” and “amortization of a loan” — make students squint and scratch their heads.

But, over the course of the semester, Morrison delights in watching the light bulbs go on. She loves that by semester’s end she can read about trends with U.S. government bond ratings in the New York Times and they get it. She’s no longer speaking Greek.

When it comes to teaching, Morrison is a pro. She better be. She has been doing it for 40 years. She taught at a high school, a technical school and other universities for 19 years before coming to UW-L for the last 21.

“It has been a great career,” she says. “What a ride.”

She will retire at the end of the school year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she is done teaching, she said. She may continue to teach personal finance in other venues. She also plans to do some traveling.

“I’m off on a new adventure and I don’t know where the road is going to take me,” she said.

Morrison’s teaching style is casual – filled with stories from her personal business experience. She was co-owner and manager of four area car washes and office manager of a family owned concrete company in La Crescent throughout her years of teaching.

Students can relate to stories, said Josh Smale, a UW-L business management major.

“A lot of stuff you learn in school – you wonder when am I ever going to use this,” he explains. “You don’t see the value of it in the real world. She shows examples where she has used these strategies.”

In addition to teaching, Morrison was responsible for building up UW-L’s personal finance course. When she came to UW-L in 1990 about 15 students took the course each year. This coming year about 400 students will take it. She also advocated that it be made an option to satisfy UW-L’s general education requirements, which it is today.

Her work extends beyond campus. She helped facilitate the development of relationships with schools in Frankfurt, Germany so students can study abroad there or vice versa. She as also served on local boards, including the Marine Credit Union board of directors.

“Her work goes beyond our students and the university. She has certainly been a contributing member to the La Crosse community and the State of Wisconsin,” said Bill Colclough, dean of the College of Business Administration.

He said her colleagues and students in the School of Business Administration will miss her. She’ll miss giving all these curious, young people the tools to grow.

“As an educator what you’re really doing is opening the door to a lifelong learning experience,” she said. “So the learning part doesn’t end here: It’s just the beginning.”

Retiring faculty and staff to be recognized

UW-L’s retiring faculty and staff will be recognized along with the university’s top alumni and graduating seniors during an Alumni Awards and Reception Friday, May 13, at the UW-L Cleary Alumni and Friends Center. A reception begins at 5:30 p.m. with awards at 6:30 p.m. Reservations are $25 per person and must be made through the Alumni Association at 608.785.8490.

Retiring faculty and staff being recognized, their departments and the year they started working at UW-L include:

Daniel Abts, Information Technology, 1978
Margaret Agger, Health Center, 1990
Mary Baldwin, Murphy Library, 1971
Jac Bulk, Sociology/Archaeology, 1978
Gregory Chu, Geography and Earth Science, 1993
Bonnie Daines, Murphy Library, 1973
Gregory Devine, Campus Stores, 1983
Laurel DeVitt, College of Liberal Studies, 1989
Diane Dobbs, Human Resources, 1987
Richard Gappa, English, 1970
Carla Graham, English, 1987
Cheryl Groth, College of Liberal Studies, 1985
Gary Johansen, University Centers, 1997
Diana Johnson, English, 1975
Sandra Krajewski, Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies, 1979
Robert Kramer, Career Services & Academic Advising Center, 1975
Beverly Kratt, University Centers, 1970
Donald Kuderer, Modern Languages, 1991
Larry Menden, Power Plant, 1985
Juthith Molzahn, Purchasing/Business Services, 1985
Dianne Morrison, Finance, 1990
Susan Nickel, Counseling & Testing, 1978
Janice Olson, Continuing Education, 1975
Patti Parker, Information Technology, 1977
Thomas Reinert, Communication Studies, 2000
Paul Rusterholz, Music, 1989
Charlene Sauer, Modern Languages, 1987
Donald Socha, Modern Languages, 1985
Gwyneth Straker, Health Professions, 1988
Michele Strange, Library, 1998
Dean Stroud, Modern Languages, 1986
Larry Terry, Intercollegiate Athletics, 1988
Susan Townsend, Residence Life, 1969
Ruth Vanderploeg, Residence Life, 1972
Elizabeth Zuege, Document Services, 1981