UW- La Crosse receives largest donation in school history for economics program

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU)-- Thursday morning UW- La Crosse announced the largest single gift ever, a $2.1 million donation.

UWL Chancellor Joe Gow announces the $2.1 million gift from the Menard family at the Community Council meeting.

The donation was given by the Menard family. This is the biggest donation in the 110 year history of UWL, passing 2018's $2 million endowment.

The grant supports the creation of the Menard Family Midwest Initiative for Economic Engagement and Research.

"It will be used to fund some great projects involving faculty and students and collaborative research and speakers and travel," said UWL Chancellor Joe Gow. "[It's] what we’d call active learning."

"It's a transformational gift," said Taggert Brooks, Professor and Chair of UWL economics Department. "It will allow us to do a lot of things from providing research opportunities for students to providing the abilities to run an experimental lab."

Associate Professor of economics Adam Hoffer was instrumental in getting the grant for the school.

The gift will allow UWL to grow its experimental economics lab and expand their Sports Economics Symposium speaker series.

UWL economic students are excited for the future of their program.

"I have the support to actually build my resume as an economist," said Kyle Vandeursen, a UWL senior economic student. "I can do research, I can go to these lectures."

The grant will be given in installments during the next four years.

For students in the business school, they say this donation makes them feel seen in what can sometimes be known as a science university.

'Whether they want it to or not, it sometimes feels like business is a secondary option to the science schools," Vandeursen said. "But, when you hear things like this, it's like, to use an econ term, now the business school is sort of competitive with the science school."

UWL faculty say this donation is the first of its kind.

"It’s really delightful that we’re the first university in the UW system to receive a gift like this from the Menards," Gow said.

The gift should have an immediate impact in the economic program and faculty say they are excited to see where the grant takes them in the future.