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Top 10 stories of 2023

Posted 11:17 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023

Aerial image of the UW-La Crosse campus

New buildings, new programs and remarkable people

As the new year begins, we reflect on some of the most popular stories from 2023 and the faculty, staff and students who continue to create, connect and make meaningful changes for the wider community. 

1. Forbes ranks UWL a top public college

Students walking on campus

We felt pride when UWL was ranked as the No. 2 public college in Wisconsin on Forbes’ 2023 America's Top Colleges list. The annual list showcases 500 of the finest U.S. colleges that have demonstrated impressive graduation rates, high graduate salaries and great outcomes for low-income students.     

2. New Fieldhouse opens doors

UWL's new Fieldhouse

We stepped inside the completed Fieldhouse for the first time in January, with its NCAA-standard track, modern locker rooms and meeting rooms outfitted with the latest technology. The facility is a game-changer for campus, allowing the university to keep pace with the continued growth in Athletics, recreational programs and the Exercise & Sport Science Department.    

3. New programs meet workforce demand

The Department of Computer Science has collaborated with UW-Parkside and UW-Extension to launch two new graduate certificate programs in financial technology. The effort aims to meet the growing demand for technical expertise in the financial services industry.

We continued to meet workforce demands when the Computer Science & Computer Engineering Department collaborated with partners to launch two new graduate certificate programs in financial technology.    

4. Student shares ingenuity with app development

Logan Larson, a graduate student in UWL's Software Engineering program, has developed a new podcasting app, "Castify."

We marveled at the ingenuity and ambition of a UWL software engineering graduate student. His business idea aims to create one of the best podcasting platforms on the market. He calls it “Castify,” and it earned third place in the WiSys “App Start” competition.  

5. Distinguished designers develop logo idea

Jordyn York (right) and Riley Radle finished first and second, respectively, in a logo design contest for the College of Business Administration. The contest was part of an advanced digital art and graphic design course taught by Marc Manke.

Two UWL students impressed us with their digital art and graphic design skills when they captured the UWL College of Business Administration’s identity using their creativity. The logo design contest was an academic exercise led by Assistant Professor of art Marc Manke.

6. New SOE associate dean is transforming lives

Pao Lor started as associate dean of the UW-La Crosse School of Education in July. Lor brings a wealth of personal and professional experience to the role, having been a Hmong refugee in the late 1970s, and having worked extensively in both K-12 and higher education in Wisconsin..

We were inspired by the story of UWL’s new associate dean Pao Lor, a Hmong refugee in the late 1970s who fled his native Laos for the U.S. when he was 7 years old. A supportive network of mentors and educators were pivotal to his success navigating isolation and cultural barriers. Now, four decades later, he is working in UWL's School of Education (SOE) with hopes to make his own transformational impact on future educators. 

7. Selling smoothies with a 'Spark'

Alex Ewig (right) and Jimmy Czupryna launched Spark Smoothies with active students in mind. “We wanted something where busy and active students could come and get a smoothie to fuel them up for whatever they’re doing throughout the day,” Ewig explains.

When Alex Ewig and Jimmy Czupryna arrived at UW-La Crosse in 2022, they noticed an opportunity to expand campus dining options. Ewig and Czupryna went on to co-found Spark Smoothies, which now serves a variety of smoothies, with protein and caffeine options, as well as sandwiches. 

8. Bug Hartsock educates about bugs

Bug Hartsock with their artwork "Neon Centipedes," created on an iPad.

Students continued to share their knowledge far and wide. A biology graduate student educated us about why we shouldn’t kill house centipedes, explaining how these “miniature cowboys” use their long legs to lasso prey you don’t want in the home such as bed bugs, termites and cockroaches.  

9. Campus storyteller writes final chapter

Brad Quarber retired after 38 years on campus.

UWL’s longtime director of News & Marketing, Brad Quarberg, said goodbye. During his time on campus, he produced dozens of issues of campus and alumni news publications. His work informed the campus, promoted UWL to the wider community and created a strong connection back to the university for those who have moved away.

10. Alum comes back to teach accountancy

Nick Dobbs, '17, overcame a life-altering motorcycle accident to earn his degree. Now, he is sharing his knowledge and life perspective as an instructor in UWL's Accountancy Department.

Alumni came back to make UWL better. When Nick Dobbs earned his bachelor’s degree in accountancy in 2017, it could have been the final chapter of a remarkable story. He was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident in 2011 and had overcome tremendous challenges to graduate.  As it turned out, his story was only beginning as he is now an adjunct instructor in UWL’s Accountancy Department.   


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