Newsmakers, September 4, 2014

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Heard On Newsmakers

UW-La Crosse Building Boom; Viterbo University 125th Anniversary

Featured in this Show

  • UW-La Crosse Building Boom

    With $241 million in major, long-term building projects underway, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse campus stands to look very different in a matter of years.

    Chancellor Joe Gow says UWL’s facilities are experiencing a period of growth unprecedented in the school’s history. The UW System Board of Regents recently approved $62 million in capital projects for the campus. If those are approved by the State Building Commission, UWL will build a new residence hall, expand its student recreation facility, and renovate an historic, 100-year-old academic building.

    The projects would be funded by student fees and program revenue, not with state tax dollars.

    Gow said there are many factors that have enabled the proposed construction.

    “I think one of the key things is that the enrollment has increased pretty significantly over the past 20 years,” said Gow. “Also, many of the buildings on campus were built long ago — 50 (years), sometimes longer.”

    There are other ongoing building projects and renovations at UWL that are further along in development. Construction on a new student union will begin this spring, and last year, the state approved funding to replace an outdated science building on UWL’s campus.

    Gow said that while the campus is undergoing a lot of physical growth, UWL is close to its optimal enrollment numbers.

    “Certainly we could take more students, but we want to protect that personalized experience. We’ve worked very hard over the past five, six years to add faculty and staff to bring down the student-faculty ratio,” he said.

    Gow says UWL is in the beginning phases of planning the construction of an indoor track facility, which his staff is proposing to student government this week.

  • Viterbo University 125th Anniversary

    Viterbo University is in its 125th year, and President Rick Artman says the school’s current mission and future is in keeping with the founding of the school by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in 1890.

    The school was founded to help educate teachers who would eventually teach in parochial schools, and Viterbo has educated thousands of teachers and now school administrators. It has also prepared 20,000 nurses and remains well-known for its fine arts program.

    In recent years, the school has incorporated concepts like servant leadership and ethics as part of its educational mission. To commemorate the 125th anniversary, Viterbo is asking students and alumni to contribute to a goal of 125,000 hours of community service by the end of June 2015, and collect 12,500 pounds of food for area food banks.

    “We’re not looking for headlines, we’re looking for impact.” Artman said. “Viterbo is here to serve the community and I hope we are viewed as good partners and collaborators.”

    Artman also expects Viterbo to continue to evolve, but he says the university won’t change what it is.

    “We’ll grow in pockets where there’s a need,” he said. “We see great opportunity in health care because the La Crosse community’s economy is so focused on the health care industry. I think online (education) is going to be a big growth area for us, but our challenge is to make sure we are different from other online for profit schools.”

    Artman says creating a different online educational experience may require more of a personal touch, where students take most of the course online, but occasionally meet with the professor who is teaching the course. Viterbo created 10 new online courses just this year.

    Viterbo has renovated the San Damiano Chapel through a donation from the FSPA, and will mark 100 years of the campus’ St. Wenceslaus Parish in late September. In addition, guest speakers at Viterbo include Captain Richard Phillips, who was subject of the movie Captain Phillips starring Tom Hanks, and Carolyn Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, who was recently named one of the 500 Most Powerful Women on the Planet by Forbes magazine.

Episode Credits

  • Maureen McCollum Host
  • John Davis Producer
  • Joe Gow Guest
  • Rick Artman Guest