University of Wisconsin La Crosse (UW La Crosse) is a public university in the University of Wisconsin system. It was first founded as a normal school in 1909. In 1964 the university became part of the Wisconsin State University System. The original campus center, Maurice O. Graff Main Hall, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is still used today to house student services; the departments of Psychology, Philosophy, and Modern Languages; and various other offices.
The campus extends across 119 acres in residential La Crosse. It features artistic, award-winning landscaping. The impressive La Crosse bluffs and Mississippi River are both close to the campus.
UW La Crosse offers nearly 90 undergraduate degrees in 44 disciplines and 26 graduate programs spread across 8 disciplines. There is one doctorate offered, which is in physical therapy. The university is organized into three colleges: the College of Science and Health; the College of Business Administration; and the College of Liberal Studies, which includes the School of Education and the School of Arts and Communication. UW La Crosse is particularly well known for its microbiology, business administration, recreation management, exercise, and sport science programs. The physician assistant program is also recognized for its excellence. UW La Crosse has, in recent years, ranked first in the nation for percentage of accounting students who successfully pass all parts of the national CPA exam.
The student/faculty ratio at UW La Crosse is 24:1. The average class size is 29, although since there are several large lecture-style classes, this means that there are also many small, conversational seminar classes as well.
The Eugene W. Murphy Library houses nearly ¾ million print volumes and a wide range of electronic databases and other resources for student use. For students who need a quick refresher in the middle of studying, the library features Murphy’s Mug Café in the building.
Most Popular Fields of Study
Admissions to UW La Crosse are highly competitive. The average GPA and ACT scores of the students at UW La Crosse are second only to those at University of Wisconsin Madison in the state system. Roughly 2/3 of incoming students score a 24 or higher on the ACT, and the majority of students graduated in the top 20% of their class.
Tuition at UW La Crosse is the lowest of any public university in the Midwest, a draw for many students. In addition to the wide range of state and federal financial aid options available to college and university students in Wisconsin, CVTC offers several of their own need- and merit-based scholarships.
Student Financial Aid Details
Clubs and Organizations
There are nearly 200 student organizations on the UW La Crosse campus to meet a wide variety of personal and professional interests. Greek life is not a large part of student life at UW La Crosse. Although there are a number of fraternities and sororities, only about 1% of students belong to one of them and only one, Delta Sigma Phi, has its own house.
The student newspaper, The Racquet, has been in continuous publication since 1910. There are several paid positions for student writers and photographers. There is also a satirical newspaper, The Second Supper, at the university. Published by students, it is widely distributed throughout La Crosse and Eau Claire. The Catalyst is a literary journal, produced quarterly by the student body. It consists of short stories, essays, and poetry. Issues of The Catalyst are organized by theme.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Student Graduation Demographics
The athletics department is known as the Eagles. The Eagles compete on the intervarsity level in NCAA Division III and the Wisconsin Athletic Conference. School colors are gray and maroon. The mascot is known as Colbert, a tribute to Stephen Colbert.
Men’s sports include track and field, cross country, wrestling, lacrosse, rugby, soccer, and football. Women’s teams include track and field, gymnastics, lacrosse, rugby, and cross country. Several of their teams have extremely strong records.
Athletics and outdoor activities are a large part of the culture at UW La Crosse. Students may rent a kayak or canoe at the Recreational Eagle Center. Hiking, biking, and rock climbing are also all popular activities, and the La Crosse area is rich in trails and waterways. The university also offers classes in yoga, strength training, and other physical activities.
Perhaps the best known tradition at UW La Crosse is the Hanging of the Lanterns, which dates back to 1913. In 1931, faculty member Orris White began hanging a large lantern on the tower of the main hall to welcome alumni for Homecoming, saying, “We’ll hang the lantern in the old college tower over the south door. You won’t need to look for the key—the door will be open.” Today a large lantern hangs there year round, but is only lit for Homecoming. UW La Crosse students also have a colorful tradition of communicating through chalking the sidewalks.
Well-known alumni of UW La Crosse include:
- Major League player Jerry Augustine
- NFL players Will Berzinski, Roman Brumm, Mike Maslowski, Ric Mathias, Tom Newberry, Bill Schroeder, and Joel Williams
- Talk show host Mark Belling
- US National Guard Major General Rodney R. Hannula
- PGA Tour golfer Don Iverson
- Food Network star Sandra Lee
- Wisconsin legislators John L. Merkt and MaryAnn Lippert
- American Frisco Jazz cornet player Robert Schulz
- Roman Catholic bishop F. Richard Spencer
- US Congressman William H. Stevenson
- About. Library. University of Wisconsin La Crosse. Web. 21 July 2011.
- Alumni. University of Wisconsin La Crosse. Web. 21 July 2011.
- Fiske, Edward B. Fiske Guide to Colleges 2011. Chicago: Sourcebooks, 2010. Print.
- Pope, Loren. Looking Beyond the Ivy League: Finding the College That’s Right for You. New York: Penguin. 2007. Print.
Elisabeth Bailey is a freelance writer and editor with particular interests in academics, food,and sustainability . She is also the author of A Taste of the Maritimes: Local, Seasonal Recipes the Whole Year Round and writes regularly for Canadian Farmers’ Almanac and the National Wildlife Federation. Elisabeth and her family live and enjoy great local food in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.