Tommy Thompson receives UW-L Student Association award

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s Student Association presented UW System interim president Tommy Thompson with its 2021-21 Higher Education Advocate Award, given annually to a person who empowers students to be active members in the community, and who strongly advocates for higher education across Wisconsin.

“His leadership led the UW System through the COVID-19 pandemic and its challenges,” Cate Wiza, 2020-21 UWL Student Association president, said at the award presentation. “With his knowledge and experience, President Thompson secured the necessary supplies to protect our campus community, and he played a vital role in the creation of community testing and vaccination centers on UW campuses, including UWL. His work has contributed to the protection and safety of the La Crosse community and our faculty, staff and students.” 

Thompson, who became interim president in July 2020, acknowledged that it’s been a challenging year.

“This has been a difficult year — we all know this,” Thompson said. “Above all, we’re committed to the health and safety of our students and giving them the best education possible. They’re the future leaders of our country. We need to give them a great education.” 

 In selecting Thompson, the Student Association also praised his advocacy for the second phase of the university’s Prairie Springs Science Center. The project, which would replace Cowley Hall, is critical to UWL’s mission to train the next generation of scientists, researchers and healthcare workers. 

“I look around campus and see one building that’s (in need of replacement): Prairie Springs phase two, Thompson said. “I’m committed to doing everything I can to see it finished.” 

Thompson, who traveled from Madison to receive the award in person, said it meant a great deal to be recognized by students he serves. 

“I’ve never received an award from students in my whole life,” he said. “This is very, very, very special.”