UW-La Crosse Presidents and Chancellors

The merger of the State University System and the University of Wisconsin resulted in a title change, from president to chancellor, in 1971.

Fassett A. Cotton, 1911-1924

Stressed educating the whole person -- body, spirit and mind -- as well as every person.  Hired many faculty who had lasting influence on the university; 13 have buildings named for them.

Ernest A. Smith, 1925-1926

Some faculty spoke of him as a kindly, democratic person; others regarded him as eccentric and arbitrary.  A life-long friend said he was ill when he took the presidency and attributed his unusual behavior to illness. Here just over a year, he became president of Toledo University and died two weeks later.

George M. Snodgrass, 1927-1939

University began granting four-year degrees; some programs gained North Central Association accreditation.  Left a continuing influence through faculty appointments -- nine whose careers individually exceeded 25 years.

Rexford S. Mitchell, 1939-1966

Served the longest of any university executive (26 years).  Led campus through years of quick growth.  Seven residence halls, three academic buildings and the student union were built during his tenure.

Samuel G. Gates, 1966-1971

Took pride in efforts to improve campus-community relations when enrollment, faculty numbers and tempers soared.  Backed by faculty and the Board of Regents, refused to allow Students for a Democratic Society to organize and hold speeches because of the group's communistic beliefs.  The American Civil Liberties Union took the issue to court and lost.  Resigned to become director the Wisconsin State University System.

Kenneth E. Lindner, 1971-1979

Brought a familiar fact to the top administrative spot after serving 11 years in the university's chemistry department.  Liberated residence hall visiting hours and allowed the first two co-ed halls.  Worked to beautify campus. University received full North Central Association accreditation.  Resigned to become secretary of the Department of Administration, the State's second most powerful position, when long-time friend Lee Dreyfus, UW-Stevens Point chancellor, was elected governor.

Noel J. Richards, 1979-1991

Completed the institution's transition to a comprehensive university.  Took pride in working with the university's governing bodies.  Helped the campus maintain and improve its physical facilities.  Established new emphases in international education.  Resigned to teach on campus before retiring.

Judith L. Kuipers, 1991-2000

Partnerships, enrollment management and community were earmarks of Kuipers' leadership.  Helped create and then head the La Crosse Medical Health Science Consortium, a unique partnership of La Crosse's institutions of higher education and its medical centers.  Resigned to head the Fielding Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, California.

Douglas N. Hastad, 2000-2006

Named chancellor in March 2001 after serving as interim chancellor for more than 10 months.  He had been an administrator at the university since 1989.

Joe Gow, 2006-present

Dr. Joe Gow is the tenth chancellor of UW-L, having come here from Nebraska Wesleyan University (Lincoln, NE) where he most recently served as Interim President.