University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse uses Mediasite webcasted messages to help raise nearly $20 million to build a new sports complex and educational facilities.

One hundred years ago the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse was founded and nationally recognized for its physical education program. Now they are known for other areas of educational excellence, but want to keep with the tradition by building a new sports complex to benefit the community and students. But the school needed support and funding to begin demolition and construction. The School turned to Mediasite by Sonic Foundry to help relay the message.

After creating personalized e-mails highlighting problems with the old complex and construction plans for the new facility, the School was able to raise $16 million in pledges. The new facility is home to a 9-lane track, football field, intramural fields, veteran's hall of honor and strength and conditioning center. After Mediasite helped make the project a successful endeavor, the University decided to use it for more projects, including to help raise funds for the new Centennial Hall. The building will feature 44 classrooms, two lecture halls, and state-of-the-art technology matching the expectations of students, faculty and staff. The school is continuing to gain support for both projects, and hopes to start construction of Centennial Hall in the spring of 2009.


  • School wanted to build a new sports complex to replace the current, inadequate facility
  • Mediasite helps university raise funds by enabling creation of personalized e-mails to alumnae
  • Pledges of $16 million were made to complete the project and construction of stadium began
  • Success led school to use Mediasite for other projects, like fundraising for the new Centennial Hall scheduled to start construction in the spring of 2009


The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse was founded in 1909 as the La Crosse Normal School, nationally recognized for its physical education program. One hundred years later, La Crosse has continued its excellence in physical education and teaching, sponsoring training camps for local children and hosting the country's oldest state high school track and field meet annually.

But the school's historic stadium needed to be updated. It had cracks in the concrete, unfit restroom facilities, and the stadium barely met ADA standards for disabled visitors. The School wanted to create a sanctuary that would promote success in track & field, football and intramural sports, as well abundant seating for visitors and a hall honoring the veterans of Wisconsin.

"We were given the opportunity - or more appropriately the challenge - of building a new stadium to support the growth and positive experiences of our student athletes," said Jim Jorstad, director of educational technologies at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. "But it was a fairly expensive proposition. The projected costs were around $16 million, and we need a way to generate interest and support within the community."

Jorstad worked with Mike Desmond of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Foundation, who was in charge of fundraising for the stadium project, to determine ways to engage community members. While they were aware of traditional methods of outreach, Jorstad wanted to communicate to alumnae, parents and future students why this stadium would benefit the University and the community in a contemporary way.

"Direct mail, e-mails, and presentations didn't seem active or engaging," said Jorstad. "We knew the emotional appeal is what would propel this project, so we set out to create materials that wouldn't just sell our idea, but would inspire the memories of success and achievement from days when the contributors were on the original field."

Jorstad turned to Mediasite by Sonic Foundry, the School's webcasting platform to communicate the fundraising needs. In the past, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse had used Mediasite successfully to capture the Chancellor's inauguration, commencement ceremonies, political speeches, and other school-related events.

They started by creating a historical highlights video, urging alumnae to consider donating to the cause. The 14-minute video focused on where La Crosse sports history started and prefaced where they're looking to go in the future. "The video worked well in fostering reminiscence among viewers and really helped to generate those first pledges," said Jorstad. "Mediasite allowed us to reach out to potential donors in a personal and unexpected way. Considering the money we raised, the alumnae's reaction speaks for itself."

This original announcement was followed by personalized videos from Phil Esten, former UW-L head track coach and current part-time volunteer men's track & field coach and Larry Terry, head football coach, sent via e-mail. Each video message was accompanied with PowerPoint slides showing building plans synched with the audio presentation via Mediasite and were e-mailed to former UW-L football and track & field students.

"Creating these personalized e-mails was a huge success. According to the Mediasite server, approximately 650 people viewed the e-mails we produced. Without Mediasite, there is no guarantee that we would have reached those people or even completed the project for that matter," said Jorstad.

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse reached their $16 million goal. The new stadium has been named the UW-L Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex. Besides the traditional football field, 9-lane track and intramural activity areas, the stadium has seating for 8,000 people, a 7,000 square-foot strength and conditioning center and a veteran's hall of honor.

During the construction of the sports complex, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse began another endeavor. In its quest to revamp the UW-L campus, administrators hope to construct a new classroom facility to accommodate students' needs and course offering opportunities. To advertise the project, Mediasite has once again been used as a fundraising tool, helping UW-L reach their $6 million goal for private donations.

Labeled Centennial Hall, the new building will provide 44 new classrooms that seat between 40 to 70 students and two auditoriums that seat 250 students each. The lectures halls will incorporate advanced technology, including flexible seating for interactive learning and spaces to encourage small group discussions and project work.

"We've got one of the smallest campuses within the UW system in terms of acreage. Expanding current campus borders or displacing existing green space is not an option. We need this new facility to meet the technological and innovative standards our students have and know they deserve. Mediasite helped make that possible," said Jorstad.

The new Centennial Hall will take the place of the current Baird, Trowbridge and Wilder Residence Halls. If constructed, the hall will be the first new classroom facility constructed on the UW-L campus since 1974. Plans to construct a new residence hall on campus are underway to ensure sufficient student housing and replace the three older dormitories.

"In current lecture halls it's not uncommon to find students sitting on the floor during instruction. This new building follows nicely in the shadow of the sports complex, in that both illustrate our commitment to excellence and our desire to improve educational facilities," said Jorstad. "The new Mediasite video with students, professors, and the chancellor really highlights the pride we have in our University. We have no doubts that this project will be another huge success."

The construction of Centennial Hall is scheduled to be completed in time for classes by fall 2011 with Mediasite as its lecture capture system.

About customer

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse is home to over 9,000 students in 85 undergraduate programs. For 100 years the University has brought prominent speakers, research professionals, community volunteers and cultural events to the La Crosse region. Faculty and staff share in its goal of discovering and disseminating knowledge while facilitating the technological resources and support necessary for students' success. Ranked as one of the finest public universities in the country, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse strives to emphasize excellence in every aspect of the school's community.