FOUNDATION ANNUAL REPORT
are pulling for them to succeed. Perhaps you received a scholarship when you were a student. You are to be commended for paying it forward. We thank you all for your gifts again this past year. It has been another difficult one in so many ways but we are encouraged by the fact that our students are back on campus. You continue to support UWL and the Foundation and you are making a difference. Sharing your pride in UWL,
Dear Alumni, Friends and Colleagues, Thanks to your generosity, the Foundation was able to award $1.285M in scholarships this year. You made donations to the Foundation’s COVID-19 relief fund that helped many students stay in school or graduate. You helped fund special programs, and you helped to provide research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.
GREG REICHERT UWL Foundation President Vice Chancellor for University Advancement uwlax.edu/alumni uwlax.edu/foundation
Your gifts are important to students and faculty alike for other reasons as well. They provide moral support and are a reminder that others believe in them and
UWL FOUNDATION FINANCIAL POSITION Total Assets
Net Assets Without Donor Restriction With Donor Restriction Total Net Assets
898,544 38,655,255 39,553,799
836,055 34,807,257 35,643,322
Total Liabilities & Net Assets
U N D E R G R A D U AT E STUDENTS
F I R S T G E N E R AT I O N STUDENTS
G R A D U AT E S T U D E N T S
2,056 R E C E I V E D U N D E R G R A D U AT E DEGREES
R E C E I V E D G R A D U AT E DEGREES
U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT RANKS UWL ON ITS LIST OF THE BEST REGIONAL PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES IN THE MIDWEST
I N S C H O L A R S H I P S AW A R D E D 2020-21
STUDENTS RECEIVED SCHOLARSHIPS
TO 60 STUDENTS THROUGH THE COVID-19 RELIEF FUND
NEW 2020 SCHOLARSHIPS
OF UNDERGRADS RECEIVED SOME FINANCIAL AID
ENDOWED 5 RESTRICTED 19 T O TA L 2 4
OF NEED WAS MET THROUGH FINANCIAL AID
Making gifts, launching careers Joe and Suzanne Toce reflect on importance of giving
hen Joe and Suzanne Toce were looking for a place to finish their careers and retire, they had three requirements.
Their new city needed to have NPR and PBS stations. It needed to have a bridge club. And it needed to have a university. Their search led them to La Crosse, where Joe would teach chemistry and biochemistry at UWLa Crosse, and Suzanne would work as a neonatologist at Gundersen Health System. Nearly two decades later, Joe and Suzanne are happy they chose La Crosse. UWL students and alumni should be grateful, too. Over the years, Joe and Suzanne have helped launch careers by donating thousands of dollars toward student scholarships, particularly for those with research interests in the sciences.
“Supporting that research really helps students get to the next level,” Joe says. “When you’re looking for that first job, you need to be able to show what you can do. We believe this is the best way for students to bolster their resumes and show employers that they have prowess beyond just the classroom.” “We firmly believe in the power of education,” Suzanne adds. “As parents, Joe’s favorite saying has always been: ‘Educate your children. It’s the only way to get them out of the house.’ So supporting that has always been important to us.” Joe, originally from Hartford, Connecticut, and Suzanne, originally from Grosse Ile, Michigan, spent most of their careers in St. Louis, Missouri. Joe ran a biochemistry company that, among other things, produced an active ingredient used in anticancer and anti-HIV drugs.
Suzanne worked for Saint Louis University, where she helped establish a medical ethics committee at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, and helped develop one of the first pediatric palliative care programs in the country. After their children grew and went to college, they moved to La Crosse in hopes of settling down.
Sara Gonske, a May 2021 graduate in biochemistry, received the Dean’s Distinguished Fellowship and the Toce Graduating Senior Award in Biochemistry. The fellowship — which allowed her to conduct research alongside Associate Professor John May between her junior and senior years — was particularly impactful, she says.
“It helped me so that I didn’t have to spend as much time working in my survey job or going home and working on my grandparents’ farm. Instead, I could “In industry, you’re paid for your performance stay at school and learn with Dr. May, and how good you are,” he explains.“But and get as much research experience at a university, you’re going to find as I could going into grad school,” students at different levels and with says Gonske, who is in the University different priorities. So it was definitely “EDUCATION of Washington’s doctoral program in a challenge at first.” biochemistry. “Saving that time and IS STILL Joe sought to make the college getting those experiences was so experience fun and challenging. IMPORTANT. valuable. That really adds to your resume and prepares you for the next level.” He’d often stump his students with IT’S STILL brain teasers, such as: “If you’re sitting While he loved teaching and at the equator, how long does it take THE BEST WAY supporting students, Joe has never for the sun to set from the moment it lost his own passion for learning. FORWARD” touches the horizon?” The year he retired, Joe signed up Eventually, he used his questions as a student to close the loop on some JOE TOCE to create a contest in which the unfinished research. student with the most correct answers Additionally, over the past several years, he has received a $1,000 award he called “The Goblet of Fire audited half a dozen courses on finance and economics Scholarship,” named after a book in the “Harry because he wanted to learn more on the topics. Potter” series. For Joe, teaching required an adjustment after years in the private sector.
As the couple neared and entered retirement (Joe in 2012 and Suzanne in 2013), they created more scholarships and research opportunities for students. The Drs. Suzanne & Joseph Toce Biochemistry Scholarship Endowment Fund, established through the UWL Foundation in 2009, funds two $1,000 scholarships awarded annually — one for a graduating senior and another for a returning undergraduate. In 2019, they established the Joseph & Suzanne Toce Dean’s Distinguished Fellowship, which fosters collaborative research opportunities between an undergraduate student and a faculty mentor.
“Sitting in class with students, you realize that you’ve had very different life experiences and educational opportunities,” he notes. Regardless of age, “education is still important. It’s still the best way forward.” While they came to La Crosse and UWL later in life, Joe and Suzanne say they have built lasting connections with the city and university. Their favorite part of giving, they say, is seeing their donations make an impact on campus and in the community.
They also donated toward the Prairie Springs Science Center endowment, earning naming rights for one of the building’s research labs.
“We’ve given to UW-Madison (where Joe earned his Ph.D.) in the past, but we prefer to give locally,” Suzanne says. “Our money has more of an impact here. It’s an investment that pays off.”
In total, Joe and Suzanne have contributed more than $212,000 to the UWL Foundation — most of which has funded scholarships.
Adds Joe: “La Crosse is just such a special place for us. You don’t really realize it until you’ve lived in or visited other towns this size.”
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