A pandemic response on campus

Alumnus Peter Thielen, front, works with Tom Mehoke on immediate sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 genome, the virus that causes COVID-19, at the Johns Hopkins Hospital molecular diagnostics laboratory. Johns Hopkins APL / Ed Whitman.

Alumni events canceled through at least mid May

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Typically, Spring Break is a laid back week on campus. Everyone takes a break, celebrating surviving another winter while getting ready for the last rush of the semester toward commencement.

But this year, obviously, was different — unprecedented.

In less than a week, spring break was extended. Classes moved online for the rest of the semester. Residence halls emptied. Campus got really quiet. Eerily quiet. We all learned a new term that became a norm: social distancing.

As the university rushed to help students get off campus and prepared for classed going online, it also adjusted to faculty and staff working entirely off campus. Take a look at the campus response in images.

Things moved fast at the beginning — and they continue to change.

During crises, good things happen along with the bad. We examine new ways to do things — and we benefit. Scientists, including UWL alums, work to crack the coronavirus code.

Here are some of the good and challenging university happenings surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic:

The Alumni Association has canceled all alumni events through mid May. As events are rescheduled, you’ll find them in the UWL Alumni Association events calendar.

Peter Thielen, ’05, a molecular biologist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, is on the front lines to understanding the virus that causes COVID-19. As millions of Americans work from home, seeing little reason to change out of their pajamas, Thielen toils away in a lab coat and gloves, working to sequence the genome of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

UWL science faculty stepped up to provide enough supplies to run 2,900 COVID-19 tests locally. Read the campus news story on how UWL stepped up to help with the COVID-19 response.

Gundersen Health System researchers have developed a way to test for the virus locally, thanks to supplies from UWL. This La Crosse Tribune story covered how testing is being done on campus in a Health Science Center lab.

Faculty and staff are giving students support and encouragement to get through the crisis via social media clips.

A fund has been set up at the UWL Foundation to help students in need. Many have lost part-time jobs and income to pay their rent and tuition — things that must still be paid. Help support students through UWL Cares.

The Cleary Alumni & Friends Center closed March 18 and the Foundation and Alumni Association staff are working from home. Staff members have access to email and are keeping connected. They will process gifts, memberships and all requests as soon as they are able. For immediate assistance, contact Janie Morgan at 608.386.7377.

Spring commencement has been postponed, but diplomas will still arrive on time! See commencement updates. 

See continuous updates of the COVID-19 response on campus.

Share your stories of support

Do you know of a UWL alum who is stepping up and supporting their community during this unprecedented time? Reach out and share their story with the UWL Alumni Association at alumni@uwlax.edu.