Wetzel returns to UWP with new start

September 24, 2002

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2002_09_24.jpgPLATTEVILLE-Although Valerie Wetzel has been with the University of Wisconsin-Platteville for almost a year, it's a new beginning for the assistant director of the student center and the Pioneer Involvement Center (PIC), as the University welcomes students and employees back to campus with the new Pioneer Student Center.

Enticed by the challenge of developing the PIC and the closer proximity to her hometown, of Detroit, Wetzel came to UWP from Oregon State University where she was the director of student involvement, a position similar to the one she holds at UWP.

"Although Oregon State has about 17,000 students, their set up is very similar to UWP's," Wetzel said. "As the director of student involvement, I oversaw four cultural centers, the women's center, student organizations and student government."

Her position at UWP includes the direction of student organizations, specifically the various Greek organizations, the President's Council and the Segregated University Fee Allocation Commission (SUFAC). She also oversees the planning and implementing of homecoming activities, the distinguished lecture series and volunteer activities through the Community University Partnership.

With the many challenges Wetzel faces moving into a new facility, she said her biggest challenge is getting people on campus involved in University organizations and activities.

"I always see a challenge as an opportunity," Wetzel said. "One of our main focuses is student involvement and getting the word out about the Pioneer Involvement Center, the services available and all the University has to offer outside the classroom."

Another challenge Wetzel is trying to overcome is the misperception of the Greek organizations.

"A lot of people don't realize how much volunteer work the Greek students do," Wetzel said. "Last year, we had 545 students volunteer 687 hours each. Our Greek organizations are involved in numerous volunteer activities, such as the Relay for Life, Adopt-a-Highway, Family Advocates, Habitat for Humanity and the Special Olympics."

Seeing students accomplish their goals and witnessing the impact University involvement has on students are the highlights of Wetzel's job.

"I also get to work with a lot of really great student leaders who do great things," Wetzel said. "This University has so many students to be proud of."

Wetzel received her undergraduate degree from Albion College in Albion, Mich., with a double major of history and political science. She also received her secondary education teaching certificate. Wetzel was offered a graduate assistantship at UW-La Crosse where she continued her education, earning a master's of science degree in college student personnel. She has completed the necessary coursework to receive her Ph.D., however, was offered the position at Oregon State before finishing her dissertation.

Wetzel is currently co-chairing the regional conference for the Association of College Unions International. UWP will host this year's conference, welcoming approximately 150 people from throughout Wisconsin, the Chicago area and the upper peninsula of Michigan. The conference will be held Nov. 1-3.

In her free time, Wetzel said she enjoys camping, outdoor activities, photography and traveling. She looks forward to getting more involved in the Platteville community.

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