Life coach

Lee poses for the camera

Angie Lee is the recipient of the 2018 Academic Staff Excellence Award.

Angie Lee: always there for students

Angie Lee may have given up a career coaching women’s basketball at the Division I level years ago. But for nearly 14 years, she’s been a big-time life coach for UW-La Crosse students.

The one-time, 1995 Associated Press Division I National Coach of the Year left the gym in 2003, leaving on her terms disillusioned with the Division I athletics. After various non-academic jobs, Lee returned to collegiate life as a UWL admissions counselor in 2005. After four years, she became a Career Services counselor for a year, before joining the Student Life Office, where she’s been for the last eight years.

“I think my heart has always been in coaching,” says Lee. “I was still able to do that — just a different kind.”

In Student Life, Lee appreciated the many different situations she encountered each day. Through it all, she helped students navigate through oftentimes tumultuous college life.

“When I saw students struggling and on the edge, it’s comforting to see them bounce back and be successful.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed the ability to work with students one-on-one and meet them where they’re at,” she says.
Lee met with students who were questioning whether they should be in college or looking for a major, along with those who made poor choices. She always offered a listening ear and didn’t judge.

“Mistakes are OK,” she would tell them. “Turn that mistake into a good thing to help develop you. You’re the sum of the experiences that you live.”
Lee often told students that life is a series of peaks and valleys. “You never always live on the peak,” she explains. “No one ever gets to stay on the peak. There will be valleys, embrace those valleys where you will learn what is required to reach another peak.”

Looking over her 14 years at UWL, Lee doesn’t refer to one, single accomplishment. Rather she sees success as a culmination of little things.

“When I saw students struggling and on the edge, it’s comforting to see them bounce back and be successful,” she notes. “You’re so proud of them.”

Even more fulfilling was commencement. “You would hear their name and see them walk across the stage and say ‘They did it!’” Lee says.

She saw herself grow by meeting so many students from so many walks of life. “Some of my greatest learning lessons have been with students,” Lee notes.

After learning her peers had selected her as the Academic Staff Excellence Award winner, Lee was humbled. With retirement beginning in July, Lee says it’s been an honor and privilege to work at UWL.

“You never have to do things alone here. There’s so much support,” she says. “I’m humbled to have had the experience. I’ve grown so much.”

The Angie Lee file

• 13 years on campus. Director of Student Life since 2016. Previously, interim Dean of Students; CARE coordinator and Student Life specialist; Career Services counselor; Admissions counselor.

• Off campus: Women’s basketball coach at University of Iowa and Virginia Tech University; manager of athletics annual giving at University of Denver.

• Campus service: Campus Climate Council; Hate Response Team; CARE Team; ALICE Training Committee; L-Club; 15 search and screen committees; others.

• Community service: Adopt-A-Highway.

• Bachelor of Science from University of Iowa, 1984; Master of Arts in Physical Education, University of Iowa, 1987.

• Fun fact: Holds National Coach of the Year and Big Ten Coach of the Years awards.

Academic staff to honor Lee

Angie Lee, retired director of Student Life, will receive the 2018 Academic Staff Excellence Award during the annual Academic Staff Council Kickoff Celebration from 3-4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19, in the Cameron Hall of Nations, Centennial Hall. Friends and colleagues are welcome.

The UW-La Crosse Academic Staff Excellence Award is given to an academic staff member who has excelled in performance and service. Excellence in performance is the primary criterion, but outstanding service to the campus community and beyond enhances a nomination. Award winners receive $1,500 in professional development funding. Recipients are selected by a committee of peers.

Academic Staff Excellence Award recipients
1994—Mary Torstveit
1995—Grace Smith
1996—Chris Bakkum
1997—June Reinert
1998—Jim Jorstad*
1999—Dianne Morrison and Larry Ringgenberg
2000—Jon Hageseth and Sara Slayton
2001— Brad Quarberg
2002—Nelda Manter and Lori Petersen
2003—Joe Chilsen and Deon Nontelle*
2004—Jan VonRuden
2005—Marcia Johnson-Sage
2006—Diane Schumacher
2007—Janie Morgan*
2008 — Hong Rost
2009 — Sue Wrobel
2010 — Debbie Veglahn
2011 — Karla Stanek
2012 — Carla Burkhardt
2013 — Mo McAlpine
2014 — Terry Wirkus
2015 — Maren Walz
2016 — Troy Richter
2017 — Michael Slevin
2018 — Angie Lee
*Recipient of the UW System Board of Regents Academic Staff Excellence Award the following year.
More about the award