Chancellor invites two alums to share more about $2 million gift during address
UWL Chancellor Joe Gow saved the best news for last at his All-University Address Wednesday.
In The Bluffs room of the Student Union, he invited two UWL alums up on stage to share why, as beneficiaries of a trust, they decided to make the largest gift to UWL in the university’s history.
The $2 million gift comes from Prairie Springs: The Paul Fleckenstein Trust. Paul Fleckenstein, who died in 2011, was devoted to numerous environmental education and conservation causes throughout his life. The trustees of his estate, his sister, Carolyn (Fleckenstein) Scott, ’85, and, her husband, Jay Scott, ‘84, addressed the crowd.
“It’s a sad thing losing someone so young. It leaves a hole in your heart,” says Carolyn. “To now have the opportunity to be the beneficiary to Paul’s estate provides me opportunities like this to have healing — knowing that his legacy will live on in all the students this endowment fund will touch.”
The gift creates the Prairie Springs Endowment Fund to support undergraduate student research, experiential learning and internships. It will focus on areas of environmental studies and education, wildlife habitat protection, wildlife protection, conservation and ecological technology. An advisory committee led by Roger Haro, interim associate dean of UWL’s College of Science and Health, will help determine how the funds will be awarded to have the greatest impact.
The gift also names the $82 million science classroom and labs building: Prairie Springs Science Center. The state-taxpayer-funded building is set to be complete by fall 2018.
Carolyn and Jay call the university “a quality, loving institution” that attracts outstanding students. They say their gift will help maximize the use of the new building, and it will also follow the lead of other generous donors, such as Professor Emeritus Ron Rada, and his wife, Jane.
Sharing one more reason for the gift, Jay looked to the crowd.
“The final reason is all of you in this room,” he said. “Carolyn and I as alums were involved in this community, and we know what it is about. And we’ve been able to meet a lot of alums. When we ask them what was the most significant thing about UWL, they often say, ‘Community. It was a caring place where I learned.’ We are investing in you as faculty and staff because we believe in what you do at this place.”
Jay says many alumni have shared with him how undergraduate research opportunities or a particular UWL faculty or staff member played an important role in their lives.
“This provides a resource so that when you notice a student who has potential, we can put our resources together to make difference in their life,” says Jay.
Gow thanked Jay and Carolyn for their vote of confidence in what UWL faculty and staff do.
“I know Paul is smiling somewhere,” he said.
Read more about how the $2 million gift will transform education.
Scholarship campaign impact
The gift contributes to the $15 million goal of the UWL Foundation’s “Share the La Crosse Experience Scholarship Campaign,” which has raised about about $12.8 million since 2013.
In other news:
Gow shared recent university awards, accolades and approvals:
- The UW MBA Consortium tied for the No. 12 spot in the 2017 U.S. News & World Report list of the Best Online MBA Programs.
- UWL is again one of two schools in Wisconsin to make Kiplinger’s Personal Finance list of the top 100 best values in public colleges for 2018.
- Mike Schmidt, UWL head football coach, is Tribune Sportsperson of the Year.
- UWL Alum Brian Gutekunst was named general manager of the Green Bay Packers.
- The State Building Commission approved the Wittich Hall renovation project to become the new home of the College of Business Administration.
- UW System honored UWL among seven of its institutions for achieving UW Veterans Education and Transition to Success (VETS) Certification.
- Fraternity/Sorority Life Coordinator Zack Pfeifer, and K Weinberg, Fraternity/Sorority Life graduate assistant, recently were awarded a $15,000 grant from CAMPUSPEAK for their proposed program to address issues of hyper masculinity and hyper femininity in the campus community.
Strategic planning progress update
Gow also shared progress on UWL’s strategic planning process. He gave examples of movement forward on all of the four pillars of the plan: increasing community engagement, achieving excellence through equity and diversity, investing in our people and advancing transformational education. Highlights included:
- Revising general education curriculum.
- Development of Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning (CATL) workshops based on a survey of faculty service learning and community-based research practices.
- Employee Educational Assistance was endorsed by Joint Planning and Budget Committee.
- Creation of a new Division of Diversity and Inclusion at UWL, which will be led by Barbara Stewart, the first vice chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion in the university’s history.
For more Strategic Planning progress details visit the website.
Gow added that strategic planning priorities will help guide decisions related to using UW System’s new outcome-based funding, which was included in the 2017-19 biennial budget. This approximately $26 million in new funding will be distributed among UW campuses during the 2018-19 fiscal year based on performance in four broad areas. Gow added that he thinks UWL will compete well with other campuses on the measures.
- Growing and ensuring student access;
- Improving and excelling at student progress and completion;
- Expanding contributions to the workforce; and
- Enhancing operational efficiency and effectiveness.