Welcome Message from Assistant Chancellor and Dean of Students, Paula Knudson, Ph.D.


Hello, Hola, Ciao, Hallo こんにちは, [هلّو, Hälsningar UW-L Students:


Welcome to the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse! I was asked by our wonderful new student welcome team to share a few thoughts with you as you enter this incredible University. Well, I’ve seldom known a dean who when given a chance to talk doesn’t enjoy taking advantage of the opportunity.

UW-L has received many positive rankings through a variety of sources. We’re proud of these ratings, yet I don’t think this represents the heart and uniqueness of the UW-L campus. Many on our campus call it the UW-L feel or UW-L Way. This UW-L Way stems from our incredible student involvement. We have over 175 registered and active student clubs and organizations. Our campus is engaged in the residence halls, is one of the only fully staffed student governments, has approximately 500 student athletes, as well as 508 intramural teams with 3,529 participants, and approximately 100,000 participants using our Recreation Center every semester. There truly is something for everyone here.

I have also watched our student leadership advocate for various diversity and social justice related issues. Although we live in a pretty homogenous location, we have and increasingly try to provide a diverse and global environment. Last year we had 406 students from 35 countries and are anticipating 42 countries represented on campus this fall. Last year we also had 434 students studying off-campus both internationally and domestically through the National Student Exchange Program and cover the globe with programs on every continent, with the exception of Antarctica.  UW-L students are becoming active Global Citizens through international exposure, both on campus as well as beyond Wisconsin's borders. Our students and campus truly do value diversity and multiculturalism so it is with pride and respect that I welcome you to this community.

What I haven’t told you is that I too am relatively new to UWL and the La Crosse area. So I’ve been reminded of the steep learning curve and mixed emotions that go along with being the new kid on the block. Over the last few years, I’ve been reliving the excitement of a new beginning - the excitement of meeting new people, finding my way, and learning new things. I’ve also been reliving the anxiety of a new beginning – meeting new people, finding my way, and learning new things.

So I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned in my first few years of joining the UWL community that might help you on your journey:
1) This is a friendly environment. People are eager to help and want new folks to be successful. However, it still takes personal initiative. My suggestion is to routinely extend your hand and say hello – give it a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed at the positive responses you’ll receive.
2) Recognize you’re not alone. Sometimes the best thing to do is to help your neighbor. This not only helps your neighbor, but also serves to help you make connections and feel better about your experience.
3) They say no question is a silly question. Well, I have to tell you I know I’ve asked a couple of silly questions. But my point is that we still need to ask! I know most of us work for many years toward independence, but I’d suggest that your true goal should be interdependence - so ask.

Finally, I want you to have a great year and hope that you take advantage of the many resources and opportunities that await you.


Paula M. Knudson, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor & Dean of Students