Eleanor M. Kennedy

Eleanor M. Kennedy

Eleanor Kennedy was the matriarch of the UWL Alumni Association. She spent 24 years at UWL as the executive director of the UWL Alumni Association. Eleanor Kennedy passed away at the age of 96 in 2013. Below is an article from the 2013 Lantern magazine remembering Eleanor’s commitment to UWL. .

If someone exemplified UW-La Crosse, it was Eleanor Kennedy. The founder and longtime executive director of the UWL Alumni Association died June 1, 2013. Kennedy came to campus in the ‘60s as a recent widow who knew that to support her four children, she needed a college education. She planned to become a teacher, but that never happened. Shortly after she earned her bachelor’s degree in 1964, President Rexford Mitchell asked her to start the alumni association. He gave her a box of 3 × 5 index cards with 5,000 names and was told: “Go for it!”

She did. When she retired in 1988, the list was 40,000 and computerized. She witnessed student lifestyles turn from the ‘60s turmoil to 80s conservatism. Along the way, Kennedy earned a master’s in college student personnel on campus in 1976. She mentored many. “She always called herself the ’friend-raiser” for UWL," recalls Darryle Damon Clott, ’66 and ’71, who got to know Kennedy while serving on the Alumni Association Board of Directors in the ’80s. They formed a friendship that lasted until Kennedy died. Clott says when she thinks of Kennedy, she thinks of three words __ a lady, class, and grace.

Current Alumni Association Director Janie Morgan didn’t work with Kennedy, but kept in touch with her. “he think I will remember most about Eleanor is she was always such a lady. She loved UWL, and the opoprtunity to meet so many wonderful alumni,” says Morgan. “Eleanor built a strong foundation for our program, and thanks to her efforts, we’re still going strong 44 years later.” From those early notecards with 5,000 names, the current alumni list has grown to 72,800.


“Friend raising, not fund raising,” was Eleanor’s motto. She spent 24 years at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse as the Assistant Director of Alumni Relations. Eleanor established this endowment fund in 1995 to support a student in the student affairs administration program. The fund was established 20 years after Eleanor received her degree in that very important program. Eleanor’s legacy will continue at UWL forever!