Pioneer Spotlight: Missy Lipska
Homecoming is always a special time for UW-Platteville alumni, but it is even more special for Missy Lipska, whose job in Development and Alumni Engagement involved coordinating the Oct. 9 Day of Giving, which brought in almost $80,000 on Founder’s Day. After graduating in 2008, she spent three years as a development officer before working at Concordia University and Carroll University. She has served as the annual giving and donor relations officer since returning to campus in 2016 and oversees the university’s successful phonathon program.
What brought you back to the area and UW-Platteville?
I never really left higher education fully in my heart. I worked at Concordia University in the admission area for a couple of years then returned to advancement at Carroll University. I was their assistant director of annual giving, specifically overseeing the phonathon, and their student employees. I loved it there, but when our daughter was born, we didn’t have any family members over there, and we decided it was very important to have her a similar upbringing to what we had. I’m from outside Cuba City, and Matt is from Platteville. We really wanted her to have that small-town upbringing with family nearby.
What did you learn about the university since you have been back that maybe you didn’t know?
It has continued to grow beyond what I thought possible when I left in 2011. Southwest Hall had been built already, and they were working on the plans for Rountree Commons with the Real Estate Foundation. My mind was blown by some of those out-of-the-box ideas for growth; I thought that was as far as we would go, but it has continued to evolve, and we have had even more creative initiatives to push the university forward. It’s exciting to see it, but at the same time, the university has remained true to what makes it so special. It continues to grow and thrive and change, but has still kept the close-knit campus feel and high quality, accessible education.
This obviously is a big weekend. What does Homecoming mean to you?
Homecoming means we will have thousands of alumni coming back to our beautiful campus to celebrate the traditions that have held for over 150 years. Obviously some of those traditions change over 150 years, but the fact remains everyone comes together to celebrate this university and how it has impacted so many lives. It is very important for my job, especially on the donor relations side, so we have been busy with the preparation for the gala and all the events. We want to make sure we thank our donors and make sure we are able to reconnect them with their classmates or professors and just get together and have one great big celebration. Personally, even when I was wasn’t working here, we made it a point to come back for Homecoming, even the first year we had Hazel. It was so much fun. Matt and I had her in the baby carrier going up and down Main Street, seeing so many familiar faces. It’s just an awesome reunion of some of the best people. It brings the community in and brings everyone together.
On Monday, you raised $79,800 in the Day of Giving. What were you expecting?
First, I can’t take all the credit for that. There were a lot of people who worked on that. I really didn’t have a monetary goal that we would publicly announce because this is the first time we did this in one day. Last year, we did a similar campaign but we stretched it over 150 hours for the 150th celebration and raised over $153,00 in the six days. So in my head, I thought $66,000 would be cool to represent 1866, and we blew that out of the water. Gifts were coming in throughout the whole time. It was an exciting day. I kept hitting refresh on the website all day long, tracking the donations as they came in. I went to bed with my Kindle hitting refresh, refresh until I fell asleep. The phonathon students did an awesome job, too. They raised $11,000. It gave them an extra reason to be excited to talk to alumni, which was really nice.
Can you complete this sentence? The best part of being at UW-Platteville is…?
Working with students. I absolutely love my 35 students who report to me. They are all like my children. Seeing what they are capable of personally, academically and leadership-wise inspires me every single day. Some have overcome incredible hardships to be here and to stay here to get and education. They keep me going daily. That’s what it’s all about. Some day they will be on the other end of those phone calls, and they tell me they can’t wait for that. It’s just so awesome to see them grow from freshmen and gain confidence to become adults and alumni.
Interview by Paul Erickson, director, Communications. To nominate someone for Pioneer Spotlight, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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