Posted 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19, 2024

In her opening address for the spring semester, interim Chancellor Betsy Morgan highlighted UWL's recent successes and bright future.

In opening address, Morgan sets tone for spring semester

Interim Chancellor Betsy Morgan shared her love of UW-La Crosse and her hope to provide stability in the months ahead during her opening address for the spring semester Wednesday, Jan. 17. 

In the wake of last month’s leadership change, Morgan said UWL remains committed to student success inside and outside the classroom, and to building upon the work that has made UWL a top-ranked midsize university. She dubbed her address, “Joy Fest,” emphasizing the many positive developments on campus. 

“It takes a village,” she told a packed crowd in the Student Union. “We will continue to do what we’ve always done: pursuing the education of students as our primary mission.”  

Morgan, who arrived on campus more than 30 years ago, said it is the people who make UWL a special place, and one she has grown to love. 

Progressing in her career as a psychology professor, watching her sons grow up around campus, feeling the outpouring of support when she was going through cancer treatment — through it all, Morgan said she has always been struck by the closeness of the campus community. 

The people, she said, are “the heartbeat of UWL.”

A moment of laughter during Morgan's address.

Morgan then invited nine staff and faculty members to share stories illustrating the difference UWL makes in students' lives. 

Christina Hayes, director of Financial Aid, discussed how her office helped 80 students pay off bills so they could register for classes this semester. 

Jennifer Miskowski, professor of biology, explained how her students went above and beyond when asked to write about what they were thankful for prior to Thanksgiving.

Andrew Ives, director of the ACCESS Center, told of a student who was able to receive accommodations for an exam on the same day they received documentation from their doctor. 

And Vickie Sanchez, director of Multicultural Student Services, shared how staff from various offices worked together to provide transportation for an international student who had missed their bus before traveling home for the holidays.

“That really speaks to the spirit of UWL,” Sanchez said. “I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it.” 

Morgan also highlighted several points of pride across campus, including:  

  • UWL is one of only two UW campuses with a budget surplus 
  • UWL boasts an 86% retention rate (first-year students returning as sophomores) — the highest among all UW comprehensive campuses
  • UWL Athletics ranks in the top 1% of all DIII athletic programs in the most recent LEARFIELD Directors’ Cup standings
  • UWL Diversity & Inclusion is preparing to host its eighth-annual Social Justice Week April 2-4, with the theme, “Building belonging: Identities shaping communities” 
  • UWL raised more than $475,000 during its annual day of giving in October — funds that will directly support students through scholarships, academic and cocurricular programming, and more. 

Morgan, who previously served as provost, was named interim chancellor Dec. 27 following the termination of Joe Gow by the Board of Regents. 

Gow, whose role as a tenured faculty member is under review, has been asked to avoid campus during the course of the investigation. Nor will he be teaching. 

Morgan says her focus is on providing steady leadership as the university continues its search for a permanent chancellor. 

"This is the benefit of having been here 30 years," she said. "I love the people. I know the university. And I'm happy to provide the stability and bring us into the future."