Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, February 16, 2009

120 turn out for reception, anniversary celebration

Sheet cake that reads Happy 25th Anniversary La Follette School

More than 60 alumni and friends of the school joined about 60 students, faculty and staff in celebrating the La Follette School of Public Affairs 25th anniversary on February 5. Alumni caught up with classmates and colleagues. Students chatted with alumni and learned more about the directions a La Follette School degree can lead them. Faculty heard from former students. Recent grads reported that they had recently found jobs or had settled into the positions they started last summer.

Silent auction raises $500 for LSSA activities

The La Follette School Student Association's silent auction at the February 5 reception for alumni and friends raised $500.

The silent auction featured gift baskets with products donated by Madison merchants and LSSA. "Alumni and students were pleased with their bidding options," says organizer Emily Plagman.

The idea for the silent auction came out of monthly meetings student Plagman organized to encourage more participation by first-year students in LSSA activities.

The funds will support policy roundtable discussions, social events and volunteer activities.

"I was pleased with the success of the silent auction," says first-year student Holden Weisman. "This boost in support will allow all La Follette students to benefit from the expanded activities LSSA will be able to facilitate."

"We are so pleased that so many alumni and friends of the school were able to join us and help celebrate our 25th anniversary," says director Carolyn Heinrich. "The enthusiasm and camaraderie shared by classmates and other alumni warmed up all at the gathering."

First-year student Erika Cheng says she enjoyed talking with alumni. "Not only was I able to meet and network with alums, but I also had the opportunity to interact with faculty outside of the classroom, which is always a valuable experience," she says.

While about half of the alumni were from classes that had graduated in 2005 and later, grads from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s also turned out, as did former La Follette School staff members Bonnie Cleary and Mary Woodward. Some alumni are now thinking about holding monthly happy hours.

Several who work in the budget office said they were unexpectedly able to attend because the governor delayed his budget address by a week in hopes that more would be known about the federal stimulus package that Congress is considering.

Career Development Coordinator Mary Russell reports she made some good contacts with alumni regarding leads on jobs and internships for students. "Our alumni value the skills our students bring to the table," Russell says, "and one alum came expressly to ask me about getting in touch with students for positions he knows about."

Opportunities exist in all divisions of the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing for students to perform a wide array of duties, says Tom Ryan, a 1993 graduate who is director of the department's Bureau of Health Professions.

Ryan also appreciates the anniversary celebration. "With the La Follette School turning 25 and La Follette's Weekly [now the Progressive magazine] celebrating its 100th birthday this year, the reception was a great opportunity to reinvigorate the Wisconsin Idea," Ryan says.

Academic year 1983-84 was the first for which the Wisconsin Legislature designated funding for the La Follette Institute of Public Affairs, building on the Center for the Study of Public Policy and Administration founded in the late 1960s by Clara Penniman, who passed away January 30. The institute became a school in 1999 under the directorship of John Witte. Dennis Dresang was the founding director of the institute.

Directors and Associate Directors

100 people expected at Feb. 5 reception; students plan silent auction, February 4, 2009, La Follette School News