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Stepping away, but not saying goodbye

Posted 1:07 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Janie Morgan, '85 & '86, is retiring after 26 years of building relationships with UWL alumni, most recently as executive director of Strategic Engagement for the UWL Alumni & Friends Foundation.

In retirement, Morgan hopes to stay engaged with her alma mater

In the early 1980s, Janie Morgan and her friend Julie Schwingel were sitting in study hall. 

The pair, who had been hoping to attend the same college, decided to exchange notes with the name of the school they had chosen. Both had written UW-La Crosse.  

The rest, as they say, is history. 

Morgan went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1985 and a master’s degree in professional development in 1986. She returned to UWL in 1998 as director of Alumni Relations and executive director of the UWL Alumni Association, and ever since has been a powerful force connecting thousands of UWL alumni to their alma mater.  

Now, she has decided to retire in June after 26 years of service with the university.  

Asked to describe what has made UWL special to her, Morgan was quick with an answer. 

“I think everyone would agree that the campus is warm and welcoming, and the city is beautiful, but it’s the people that make this place special,” she says. “We talk a lot about 'The La Crosse Experience.' That concept incorporates all those things, plus receiving a great education.” 

Many things stand out from Morgan’s quarter century with UWL – from the countless events that have allowed her to connect with old friends and new faces, to the tangible, positive impact the Alumni Association and  Foundation have made on students’ lives. 

One such highlight was the Alumni Association’s 50th Birthday Bash in 2019. Morgan gathered all of the former board presidents to engage as many alumni and friends as possible, with the goal of celebrating that significant milestone while raising money for alumni programming and legacy scholarships. 

After six months, the group had exceeded their goal by raising nearly $280,000. The celebration included staff, volunteers, and many current and former board members – “a wonderful tribute to our past and we raised a toast to the future,” Morgan says. 

In 2023, Morgan was part of another significant project – optimizing the alignment of the Alumni Association and Foundation as a single entity.  

The realignment has allowed the new UWL Alumni & Friends Foundation to maximize staffing and resources, while continuing to deliver a quality experience for alumni, friends and donors. It also led to Morgan’s new title as executive director of Strategic Engagement. 

Morgan holds many positive memories from her time as a student – from serving as a floor representative in Sanford Hall, to completing a transformative internship experience at a local hospice under Professor Emeritus Bob Bendiksen, to getting sprayed by a squirt gun after falling asleep in one of Bob Allen’s astronomy courses.  

Morgan’s fond memories and professional milestones have combined to form her unbreakable bond with UWL.  

And while she looks forward to traveling and playing golf and pickleball with her partner, Joe – not to mention waking up without an alarm clock – retirement does not mean she will drift apart from the school she loves. 

“I am a very proud double alumna and emerita staff member, so you bet I will stay involved,” she says. “You can take Janie out of UWL, but you can never take UWL out of Janie!” 

Even in retirement, Morgan says she will remain an active member of the UWL community.


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