University of Wisconsin–La Crosse
Mind and Body
|Location||La Crosse, Wisconsin, U.S.
119 acres (48 ha)
|Colors||Maroon & Grey
|Athletics||NCAA Division III – WIAC|
|Mascot||Stryker the Eagle|
The University of Wisconsin–La Crosse (also known as UW–La Crosse, La Crosse, or UW–L) is located in La Crosse, Wisconsin United States. Founded in 1909, it is a leading comprehensive four-year institution within the University of Wisconsin System awarding bachelor's, master's, and one doctoral degree. UW–La Crosse is organized into five schools and colleges offering 91 undergraduate programs and 26 graduate programs.
In 2014, U.S. News & World Report ranked UW-L the top comprehensive university in the UW System for the fourteenth consecutive year, and the fourth ranked public university offering bachelor's and master's degrees in the Midwest. In addition, UW-L was ranked in the elite group of 39 national universities highlighted for student success in undergraduate research and creative projects. Nationally recognized programs include occupational therapy, physical therapy, and physician assistant offerings at the graduate level.
- 1 History
- 2 Campus
- 3 Student demographics
- 4 Academics
- 5 Student life
- 6 School traditions
- 7 Athletics
- 8 Notable alumni
- 9 Notable faculty
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The early years
The university was founded as the La Crosse State Normal School in 1909, the eighth of nine state normal schools established in Wisconsin between 1866 and 1916 for the purpose of teacher preparation. Thomas Morris sponsored the bill in the Wisconsin State Senate that led to the university's creation. Initially, the La Crosse State Normal School was authorized to offer two-year programs to prepare students for the teaching profession. Main Hall (now Maurice O. Graff Main Hall), the original building on campus, was constructed the year the school was founded. The La Crosse State Normal School opened its doors later that same year with Fassett A. Cotton as its first president.
La Crosse State Normal School students began organizing several extra-curricular activities within two years of the school's founding. In 1910, students published the first campus newspaper, The Racquet, which is still published today. The Physical Education Club was formed in 1912, making it the longest continuous organization in the school's history.
The Physical Education Building (now Wittich Hall), the original physical education building, was completed in 1916 after delays due to the start of World War I. This was not the only setback for the school during this period. The school struggled through serious declines in enrollment and funding following World War I and throughout the Great Depression.
In 1926, George M. Snodgrass became the school's third president, replacing Ernest A. Smith, who served for only one year. That same year the school's programs were expanded and authorization was given to award baccalaureate teaching degrees. This led to an institutional name change the following year to La Crosse State Teachers College.
In 1931 the college was divided into separate elementary education, secondary education, and physical education divisions. It was also this year that the homecoming tradition of the "Hanging of the Lantern" began at the south entrance of Maurice O. Graff Main Hall. It was created by English teacher Orris O. White who remarked, "We'll hang the lantern in the old college tower... You won't need to look for the key - the door will be open."
The Training School, which had also been referred to as the Campus School and the Model School, moved into its newly constructed building in 1939. The LaCrosse State Teachers College Training School Building was later renamed Morris Hall in honor of Wisconsin politician, Thomas Morris. The Training School provided practice and supervised observation for teacher training candidates. 1973 was the last year of operation for the Training School. Rexford S. Mitchell became the college's fourth president that same year, serving until 1966.
Post World War II years
After the Regents authorized the nine Wisconsin State Teachers Colleges to establish baccalaureate degrees in liberal arts, the college changed its name to Wisconsin State College-La Crosse in 1951. It was also this same year that Wilder Hall became the first campus residence hall. In 1956, the college was authorized to establish graduate programs, which led to the Master of Science and Master of Arts in Teaching degrees. A graduate program in physical education was also established at that time. Florence Wing Library, the college's first library, was constructed that same year and began a period of substantial expansion for the college. Over the next 18 years (1956–1974), the college ballooned from 5 buildings to a total of 23 buildings. The college added 11 residence halls, 4 academic buildings, 2 libraries, and 2 student centers during that time.
In 1959, the college celebrated its 50th anniversary, with an enrollment of 1,821 students. That same year presidential candidate John F. Kennedy visited campus and spoke to a packed Graff Main Hall auditorium.
In 1964, the college was designated a university as part of the Wisconsin State University System and was renamed Wisconsin State University–La Crosse. This designation led to the creation of the Colleges of Education, Health-Recreation-Physical Education, and Letters and Sciences. Later, the School of Business Administration was also formed within College of Letters and Sciences. A few years after receiving university designation, the university's fifth president, Samuel G. Gates, began his term in 1966.
The Wisconsin State University System merged with the University of Wisconsin System in 1971, at which time the university adopted its current name and also changed the title for the head of the university from President to Chancellor. Kenneth E. Lindner, who was at the time the university's sixth president, became the university's first chancellor. Lindner, after serving as chancellor from 1971 to 1979, was succeeded by Noel Richards, who served as the university's chancellor until 1991. Lindner Forest, a heavily wooded section in the southern part of campus, was named in honor of former Chancellor Lindner.
In 1989, the university's mascot became the Eagle. UW–L men's athletics teams had previously been known as the Indians (1937–1989), Red Raiders, Hurricanes, Racqueteers, and Peds and Maroons. The women's athletic teams were known as the Roonies, derived from the university's school colors of maroon and gray, since the inception of female intercollegiate competition in the early 1970s. They adopted the Eagle mascot a year after it became the university mascot. Since the adoption of the Eagle mascot, the band's mascot has been the Screaming Eagle, having been known as the Marching Chiefs before that. The "Eagle in the L" and caricature, which were both created in 1989, were unveiled just before the fall sports teams took to the field as the Eagles for the first time. They were penned by Dave Christianson, a 1973 arts graduate who created the images after the adoption of the Eagle mascot.
In 1991, Judith Kuipers became UW–L's third chancellor, serving until 2000. She was the institution's first and only female leader. In 1992, Kuipers was instrumental in the creation of the La Crosse Medical Health Science Consortium. The consortium, a collaboration of UW–L, Viterbo University, Western Technical College, Franciscan Skemp Medical Center, and Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center, was created to provide cutting-edge medical education, research and training. This led to the creation of the US $27 million Health Science Center in 2000.
Under the university's strategic plan, "Forward Together," the university reorganized into four colleges: the College of Business Administration; the College of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation; the College of Science and Allied Health; and the College of Liberal Studies, which housed the School of Arts and Communication and the School of Education. The College of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation underwent a few names changes before eventually merging with the College of Science and Allied Health to form the College of Science and Health in 2006.
The Cleary Alumni & Friends Center along with Murphy Library remodeling projects were completed in 1995. Construction continued on campus and two years later a student life center, the Recreational Eagle Center, and the Hoeschler clock tower were also finished. Hoeschler Tower becomes a focal point on campus and the new home for the traditional "Hanging of the Lantern."
The 21st century
The turn of the century saw a number of changes at UW–L. The Archaeology Building and Laboratories, which was a US $380,000 renovation of the campus's original power plant, had its grand opening that year. A US $9.9 million renovation to Wing Technology Center also was started at that time and was completed in 2001. Another major change was the resignation of Chancellor Kuipers. She was replaced on an interim basis by Douglas Hastad, who was named the university's fourth chancellor and ninth leader by the UW System Board of Regents in 2001.
In the 2001–2002 academic year, the university's athletic teams won four national championships, three NCAA Division III championships (indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, and cross country), and one NCGA title (women's gymnastics).
Joe Gow became the fifth chancellor and 10th leader of UW–La Crosse on February 1, 2007. He replaced Douglas Hastad, who left to become president at Carroll College, in Waukesha, Wisconsin. His official inauguration took place on October 19, 2007. Gow often personally e-mails the entire student body to inform them about student accomplishments and upcoming university events. An accomplished guitarist, he performed at the Cartwright Center's "Cellar" restaurant for students after taking over as chancellor.
The university supports cultural events, regional and national conferences, prominent speakers, applied research, health care, professionals with varying expertise, a large workforce, and numerous faculty, staff and student community volunteers.
The percentage of the university's budget that is state funded has declined over the past few years. In 1996, students paid 35% of the cost of their education at UW–L and the state the remaining 65%. By 2005, the student share had grown to 51% as the state’s shrunk to 49%. The university has felt the strain caused by decreased public funding. The university's centennial campaign and "growth and access" agenda are both aimed at providing the necessary financial resources to deal with the decreased state funding.
The university's plans for the future revolve around increasing access to UW–L for talented students of all backgrounds and expanding student research and academic opportunities. Both the centennial campaign and "growth and access" agenda are major tools meant to lead the university to these goals.
Construction for a new academic building, Centennial Hall, began Spring 2009 and the building opened for the Fall 2011 academic year. Built at a cost of $44 million, it houses 44 classrooms, two auditoriums, the Academic Advising Center, Counseling and Testing Center, Multicultural Student Services, Office of International Education, and Student Support Services.
Students in the Spring of 2012, overwhelming voted in favor of a new student center, to replace current Cartwright Student Center. Cartwright opened in 1958 and an addition was built in 1984. Construction for the new student center would occur during the 2014-2015 academic year, with an opening in Fall 2016. The new student center edifice was designed to emulate Grandad Bluff, a defining feature of La Crosse.
$241 million in major, long-term building projects are underway on campus. These investments include an $82 million renovation and addition to Cowley Hall for the sciences, a new $53 million student union, a new residence hall, additions to the parking ramp, a sustainable chilled water plant, and more.
The 119-acre (48 ha) campus is located in a residential section of La Crosse. The extensive landscape of grassy fields, trees, flowers, and other vegetation gives the campus a distinct park-like feel. The university has limited vehicle traffic on campus. In 2006, UW–La Crosse received a "Grand Award" at the 2006 Green Star Awards competition for its campus landscaping from the Professional Grounds Management Society.
To the east of campus are the La Crosse bluffs, of which the most prominent is Grandad Bluff (mentioned in Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain. Downtown La Crosse and the Mississippi River are about a half mile west of campus.
Hoeschler Tower (1996), located in the heart of UW–L, is the focal point of campus and a popular destination and meeting place for students. It is also the site for many university and student events, such as concerts, fundraisers, the clocktower dance, memorial services, and the traditional hanging of the lantern.
Sidewalk chalk is used as a means of communication among students throughout the warmer months. It is used to advertise future events, share personal ideas, and promote political agendas, among other things.
Students can live in one of the university's residence halls. The newest residence hall, Eagle Hall, opened Fall 2011 and houses 500 students and the new center for residence life. A new, on-campus apartment style residence hall was completed in 2006. Two 1950s-era residence halls, Trowbridge Hall and Baird Hall, were demolished in spring 2009 to make way for a new academic building, Centennial Hall, which was completed in the fall of 2011 and is the largest academic building on campus. Further construction plans include constructing a new student building to replace an aging Cartwright Center, a new science building to replace an aging Cowley Hall, and a parking structure to replace gravel parking lots on the north side of campus.
Plans for campus developments over the next five years call for a new academic building with associated campus landscape improvements and a new stadium and outdoor athletics complex.
Notable and historic buildings
Maurice O. Graff Main Hall - Graff Main Hall (1909), the original building on campus, contains the chancellor's office, a 787-seat auditorium, classrooms, the departments of Philosophy, Psychology and Modern Languages, and other administrative and student services offices. It was designated a historic site by the city of La Crosse, Wisconsin in 1984 and is on the National Register of Historic Places as the Main Hall/La Crosse State Normal School.
Wittich Hall - (1916) The original physical education building, houses faculty and staff offices, gymnasiums, a track, multipurpose and meeting rooms, a strength training center, a therapeutic/rehabilitation swimming pool, the Musculoskeletal Research Center, and the Special Populations Exercise Program. The building has been renovated for use in the preparation of special/adapted physical education teachers and therapeutic recreation specialists. Administrative, faculty, staff, and graduate assistant offices for the Department of Recreation Management and Therapeutic Recreation are located in Wittich Hall. The building is also the primary practice site for the Women's Intercollegiate Athletics Gymnastics team. Wittich Hall, the Physical Education Building of the La Crosse State Normal School, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 as the Physical Education Building/La Crosse State Normal School.
Thomas Morris Hall - Morris Hall (1939, 1966, remodeled 1996) first opened in January 1940 as the LaCrosse State Teachers College Training School Building. Today, Morris Hall houses the instructional and administrative facilities for the School of Education including the Department of Educational Studies, the Master of Education-Professional Development Program (ME-PD), the Learning Communities Programs, the Office of Student Teaching and Internships, the Office of Continuing Education and Extension, and the Frederick Theater. Morris Hall is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Eugene W. Murphy Library - Murphy Library (1969, remodeled 1995), is centrally located on campus. It was named for Eugene W. Murphy in recognition of his 22 years of service to UW–L and the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents. At the time of its construction, the library cost US $2.5 million to construct. As of 2007, Murphy Library had a total of 691,282 books, bound periodicals, and government documents. The library also offers electronic resources, such as journals and databases. In 2006, the library opened Murphy's Mug Café, which is managed by the campus dining services.
Health Science Center - The US $27 million Health Science Center (2000) was a project of the La Crosse Medical Health Science Consortium. The building includes laboratory facilities for the Medical Laboratory Science, Nuclear Medicine Technology, Occupational and Physical Therapy, Physician Assistant, and Radiation Therapy programs. Biology and microbiology research laboratories are also available for medical research. Laboratories and classrooms, including distance education classrooms, are shared by all educational programs at the center. A student health center, including a physical therapy clinic, is located on the main floor and serves UW–L and neighboring Western Technical College students.
Cleary Alumni and Friends Center - The Cleary Alumni and Friends Center was built in 1995 by the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse Foundation and donated to the university. Members of both the university and the greater La Crosse community meet and take advantage of the conference center, smaller conference rooms, and large banquet hall. The Cleary Center houses the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse Foundation offices and the Alumni and University Relations advancement offices.
Centennial Hall - Centennial Hall, the newest academic building on campus since 1974, opened in fall 2011. It is located in the center of campus and holds 46 classrooms, including two 250-seat auditoriums and various academic and student advising departments. A large, open entryway in the building opens up to the Hall of Nations. The room will hold flags from 44 countries, representing the diversity of UW-L’s international students.
Cartwright Center - Cartwright Hall (1959 with additions in 1965 and 1985), is the student union. It is home to the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse Bookstore, Textbook Services, TV and reading lounges, a computer lab, student organization offices and resources, the Involvement Center, Pride Center, and meeting rooms. Cartwright Center is also home to the Valhalla theater with a built-in stage and seating for 900 and the Port ‘O Call fireplace lounge.
Mitchell Hall - Mitchell Hall (1965) is a recreational, teaching, research, and service facility located adjacent to outdoor practice fields, 16 tennis courts, soccer fields, and Veterans Memorial Stadium. Facilities include a swimming pool, basketball courts, wrestling room, dance studio, racquetball courts, and a 3,800-square-foot (350 m2) strength and conditioning center. The field house located in Mitchell Hall has a 4-lane 200-meter polyurethane track, long and triple jump pit, pole vault boxes, nets for tennis, badminton, volleyball, golf, softball/baseball hitting, and a climbing wall.
Recreational Eagle Center - The Rec Eagle Center (1997) houses Intramural and Student Recreational Sports. The building includes a field house, a 200-meter elevated running track with warm-up areas, a strength and conditioning center, a climbing gym, a child care center, TV lounges, locker rooms/shower rooms, and various multi-purpose activity rooms. The Rec Eagle Center regularly hosts campus activities, such as Rectoberfest and the 5K Turkey Trot Run/Walk.
As of the fall 2015 semester 10,408 students were enrolled at UW–La Crosse. There were 9,650 undergraduate students, 758 graduate students, and over 400 international students representing 44 states and 27 countries.
Incoming freshman average an ACT score of 25 and a median high school class rank in the 80th percentile, the second highest academic profile in the UW System. The university also bolsters an 87% retention rate of freshman returning to UW-L their next year.
UW–La Crosse offers 90 undergraduate programs in 44 disciplines, and 26 graduate programs and emphases in eight disciplines. Microbiology and exercise and sport science are designated as UW System Centers of Excellence, and the College of Business Administration holds international accreditation. UW–La Crosse also offers Wisconsin's only nationally-accredited degrees in recreation management and therapeutic recreation, the UW System's only nuclear medicine technology program, and offers one of two Midwest undergraduate archaeology majors.
Colleges and schools
The university is organized into three colleges: the College of Business Administration, the College of Science and Health, and the College of Liberal Studies, which houses the School of Arts and Communication and the School of Education.
College of Business Administration
The College of Business Administration (CBA) is professionally accredited by AACSB International (The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business). It provides undergraduate programs, along with a graduate program in business administration.
College of Liberal Studies
There are 56 undergraduate and seven graduate degree programs in the humanities, social sciences, arts and communication, education and interdisciplinary programs that comprise the College of Liberal Studies (CLS). The CLS is divided into two schools, the School of Arts & Communication and the School of Education.
The School of Arts and Communication has programs that concern the human condition as it is conveyed through artistic and communicative endeavors.
The School of Education contains teacher education programs housed in a variety of departments and colleges across the university. Teacher education programs are accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary School's Higher Learning Commission.
College of Science and Health
The College of Science and Health (SAH) accounts for just over half of UW-L's total enrollment. The 11 departments of The College of SAH offer 47 undergraduate and 14 graduate degree programs. In addition to a degree 14 pre-professional programs are offered. The Athletic Training, Chemistry, Clinical Laboratory Science, Medical Dosimetry, Nuclear Medicine Technology, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Physician Assistant, Radiation Therapy, Recreation Management, and Therapeutic Recreation programs are all fully accredited.
The college also offers a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree which was ranked #39 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The doctoral offering is a 34-month program with roughly 45 students.
The following university centers and institutes bring multiple SAH departments together in a common research effort.
- The Center on Disability Health and Adapted Physical Activity conducts physical activity/education programs for children, youth, and adults with disabilities.
- The Emerging Technology Center in Pharmaceutical Development is a community of UW-L scientists and scholars whose primary purpose is to engage in the discovery and development of new drug molecules and medicines that may be used to treat human diseases and save lives.
- The Human Performance Laboratory is an educational and research facility for master theses and faculty research in the fields of exercise physiology, cardiac rehabilitation, sports medicine, fitness management, and related fields.
- The Institute of Biomolecular Sciences fosters regional education, communication and research collaborations in the biomolecular sciences.
- The La Crosse Institute for Movement Science is a partnership between Western Technical College, Viterbo University, UW-La Crosse, Franciscan Skemp Health Care, and Gundersen Lutheran Hospital that brings together interested faculty and clinicians with expertise in movement science.
- The River Studies Center is a non-curricular unit focusing on research and informational programs pertinent to the Upper Mississippi River. The center has partnerships with federal and state agencies.
- The Statistical Consulting Center provides advice and assistance on sampling, experimental design, data modeling and analysis, and interpretation and written communication of statistical results. It is housed in the Mathematics Department.
Engineering dual degree partnerships
UW-La Crosse partners with the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in a program that allows students to complete three years of study at UW-L before transferring to the partnership university for two years to complete the science or engineering portion of a dual degree.
Rankings and recognition
In 2014 U.S. News & World Report ranked UW–L #26 among the Midwest regional public universities offering bachelor's and master's degrees. In 2012 a Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance report placed La Crosse and UW-Eau Claire among the most selective schools in the UW system, behind UW-Madison. In 2014 Kiplinger's Personal Finance, ranked the university fourth on its list of the "25 Best College Values Under $30,000 a Year". In 2007, the Princeton Review named UW–La Crosse one of America's "Best Midwestern Colleges" and an "America's Best Value College". Men's Health magazine ranked UW–L the 10th fittest campus in the country in 2005 and 12th fittest in 2006.
In 2006, the school was named one of the nation's top 100 LGBT-friendly universities by The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students. The rankings were determined by examining institutional policies, commitment and support, academic life, housing, student life, counseling and health services, campus safety, and recruitment and retention efforts.
In 2009, UW-L received the U.S. Department of Commerce Export Award for its international student recruiting and programs.
UW–La Crosse offers over 175 different student organizations in a wide range of pursuits, everything from academic to religious, cultural to athletic, political to social, and many others. The Physical Education Club, which was formed in 1912, is the longest continuously operating organization at the school.
Greek life plays a small role at UW–L. Only about 1% of males and 1% of females in the student body are members of a social fraternity or sorority. The four social fraternities represented on campus are Delta Sigma Phi, Sigma Tau Gamma, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Chi Phi, and the two sororities represented are Alpha Xi Delta and Alpha Phi. Delta Sigma Phi is the only Greek organization on campus with a fraternity house. The Eta Rho chapter of the Delta Sigma Pi professional business fraternity is a coed option for students of the College of Business Administration.
Oktoberfest, USA is an annual celebration held on the final week of September and beginning of October. During the first weekend the town's population will triple to quadruple, attracting 150,000 - 200,000 visitors. Although UW-L has tried to distance itself from the event, support among students remains strong. The town of La Crosse has the most bars per capita in the nation and not surprisingly $6 million enters the economy during the event.
The Racquet is a student-produced newspaper distributed weekly during the academic year. The paper, which began in 1910, contains student-produced articles about campus, community, state, and national events. The Racquet is composed of two major divisions: news and features. The majority of The Racquet's annual budget is generated internally, but a small portion is contributed via student fees. In 2013, The Racquet was ranked #32 in the nation and #1 in Wisconsin in the Top 100 College Newspapers for Journalism Students.
The Second Supper is a satirical newspaper published by students and is recognized by the student government. The Second Supper is published weekly from its headquarters in downtown La Crosse, serving western Wisconsin through the cities of La Crosse and Eau Claire.
The Catalyst is a student-produced and edited quarterly publication of student-submitted essays, short stories, and poetry. Each edition has a different theme. The Catalyst intends to provide a channel for creative intellectual inquiry in order to provoke campus and community discussion.
The Eagle mascot
The university's school colors are maroon and gray. The university mascot, which was adopted in 1989, is the Eagle. UW–L men's athletics teams had previously been known as the Indians (1937–1989), Red Raiders, Hurricanes, Racqueteers, and Peds and Maroons. The women's athletic teams were known as the Roonies, derived from the university's school colors of maroon and gray, since the inception of female intercollegiate competition in the early 1970s until November 1990 when they also adopted the Eagle mascot. Since the adoption of the Eagle mascot, the band's mascot has been the Screaming Eagle, having previously been known as the Marching Chiefs.
UW–La Crosse's athletic teams sport an "Eagle in the L" and caricature, which was created in 1989, when the sports teams took to the field as the Eagles for the first time. It was created by Dave Christianson, a 1973 art major graduate who penned the images after the UW–L men's teams adopted the Eagle mascot. Women's teams started sporting the Eagles moniker in November 1990. The UW-L Eagle mascot was named "Colbert" in a vote by students during the 2008-09 school year. On October 10, 2012, Colbert was retired, and a new similar looking mascot was introduced, named Stryker.
Hanging of the Lantern
The Hanging of the Lantern's tradition dates back to 1913 when UW–L students hung small lanterns in house windows near campus. In 1931, longtime faculty member Orris O. White began a tradition of hanging one large lantern in the Maurice O. Graff Main Hall tower, above the building's south entrance. The act welcomed alumni who had returned home. "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," declared White.
Since 1931, a lantern has hung each Homecoming. It hung on the south side of Graff Main Hall until 1997 when it was moved to the Hoeschler Tower in the center of campus. The tower's lantern hangs year-round, but is lit only during Homecoming.
Lighting of the "L"
The Lighting of the "L" tradition began after a 1935 college prank. Bored on a foggy day, F. Clark Carnes and Bernie Brown hiked up Miller's Bluff, north of Grandad Bluff. They gathered and piled brush in the shape of a 30-foot (9.1 m) by 15-foot (4.6 m) "L", started it on fire, and slipped down the bluff toward campus before police could locate them. When Brown and Carnes reached Veterans Memorial Stadium, the fog lifted and allowed the crowd to see the "L". In recent years, the "L" has been lit by electricity and shines from Grandad Bluff.
The University of Wisconsin–La Crosse maintains programs in indoor and outdoor track, cross-country, gymnastics, and football, competing in the WIAC, which is in the NCAA's Division III. UW–L holds membership affiliation in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association.
UW–L has approximately 570 student athletes participating on 19 teams (ten for women and nine for men), which have won 51 NCAA national titles in nine different sports, including 34 since 1991. UW–L has also won 309 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships. UW–L is one only of six institutions in NCAA Division III history to finish in the top 20 all 10 years of the Directors’ Cup, which includes all 433 NCAA Division III schools.
UW–L has won 26 men's track and field titles, the most in Division III history. The Eagles have won 14 indoor and 10 outdoor championships, both ranking first in the nation. The Eagles have now swept the indoor and outdoor titles in the same season 10 times (1988, 1991–1993, 1997, 2001–04 and, 2006).
The university won the NCAA Division III "triple crown" in 2001-02, claiming the men's cross country title, men's indoor track and field title and men's outdoor track & field championship. The university is one of two NCAA Division III institutions to win the "triple crown" (the other being North Central College during 2009-10). The Eagles also captured the 2005 NCAA Division III cross country title, the third in school history (1996, 2001).
The gymnastics team has won 12 national titles, a record in the NCGA, as well as a record 20 WIAC titles. UW–L won its sixth consecutive National Collegiate Gymnastics Association (NCGA) Championship in 2006.
The Eagles won seven Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) titles in 2005-06 and finished in the top-four in 16 of 18 sports. UW–L also had nine WIAC Scholar-Athletes last year[when?] and eight WIAC Coach of the Year honors. The Eagles had 203 All-WIAC honors in 2005-06.
The UW–L football team plays its home games at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The football stadium and outdoor track was replaced by a new timed outdoor track, a football turf field, a new 10,000+ seat stadium/press box/field lights, plus surrounding soccer/athletic fields.[when?]
- Jerry Augustine, MLB player
- Mark Belling, conservative talk show host
- Will Berzinski, NFL player
- Sharon Weston Broome, Louisiana legislator
- Roman Brumm, NFL player
- Gerald W. Clusen, U.S. Navy admiral
- George Dahlgren, NFL player (did not graduate)
- Mike Dee, college baseball coach at UIC
- Ernest Emerson, knife maker, martial artist, and CEO of Emerson Knives
- John Gard, 1986, former Speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly
- Brian Gutekunst, NFL scout
- Rodney R. Hannula, U.S. National Guard Major General
- Thomas S. Hanson, Wisconsin State Assemblyman
- Don Herbert, host of the Mr. Wizard television show
- Edmund Hitt, Wisconsin State Assemblyman
- G. Erle Ingram, Wisconsin State Senator
- Don Iverson, 1968, professional golfer on the PGA Tour
- Tim Kabat mayor of La Crosse
- Gaetano Kagwa, 1997, Uganda media personality.
- Dan Kapanke, former member of the Wisconsin State Senate
- Don Kindt, 1980, NFL player
- Don Kindt, Jr., NFL player
- Tom Klawitter, MLB player
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- Craig Kusick, Jr., Arena Football League quarterback
- Sandra Lee, 1987, host of The Food Network's Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee and author
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- Ace Loomis, 1950, NFL player
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- Ric Mathias, 1997 NFL player
- Greg Mattison, 1970, NCAA and NFL football coach
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- Leland E. Mulder, member of the Wisconsin State Assembly
- Neal Nelson, Hall of Fame Basketball Coach
- Tom Newberry, 1986, NFL offensive Lineman
- James D. H. Peterson, member of the Wisconsin State Assembly
- Robert Quackenbush, 1950, Wisconsin politician
- Dick Ritger, Professional ten-pin bowler, PBA Hall of Famer, bowling coach
- Andrew Rock, 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist in Track & Field
- Vinny Rottino, MLB player
- Marlin Schneider, 1965, member of the Wisconsin State Assembly
- Bill Schroeder, 1994, NFL wide receiver
- Webb Schultz, MLB player
- Robert Schulz, an American Frisco Jazz cornet player
- Ed Servais, 1981, college baseball coach at Saint Mary's and Creighton
- Richard Severson, 1971, U.S. Air Force general
- Jennifer Shilling, 1992, member of the Wisconsin State Senate
- Wayne Smith, NFL player
- F. Richard Spencer, Roman Catholic bishop
- William H. Stevenson, 1912, U.S. Congressman
- Ellen Tronnier, 1944, All-American Girls Professional Baseball League player
- Gregg Underheim, former member of the Wisconsin State Assembly
- Jeremy Unertl, 2001, Arena Football League player
- Joel Williams, 1978, NFL linebackerq
- Kirsten Olson, 2014, former figure skater and actor in the Disney film Ice Princess
- Alan I. Bigel - Professor of Political Science
- Steve Doyle - member of the Wisconsin State Assembly, Professor of Political Science
- Roger Harring - Football coach
- Lalita Pandit - Professor of English
- John Medinger - Former Mayor of La Crosse and former member of the Wisconsin State Assembly - Lecturer of Political Science
- Clyde B. Smith - Football coach
- Clark Van Galder - Football and basketball coach
- Bill Vickroy - Football coach
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