A WORLDWIDE IMAGE
UW-La Crosse has an outstanding reputation in Europe
By Bradley Quarberg
UW-La Crosse and east central Europe may be half a world apart, but the university has had a lasting impact on eight European countries and their developing economies. In fact, many prominent business leaders and financial experts point to UW-La Crosse as the institution that provided them with crucial professional skills.
The university's College of Business Administration has trained more than 200 bankers, financial managers, administrators and business leaders from former Soviet-bloc countries through a Georgetown University-based program.
Georgetown's East Central European Scholarship Program was the first education and training program funded and implemented under a 1989 U.S. Congressional initiative to support democratization and privatization in former European communist countries.
Located at Georgetown's Center for Interculture Education and Development, the program works to strengthen democratic processes, regional development and economic restructuring in the participating countries, as well as to ensure health and human development.
During the program's first nine years, the program addressed needs of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. In 1998, programs in these four countries were phased out and redirected to Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Romania.
Maria O. Pryshlak, director of the East Central European Scholarship Program since its inception, has worked closely with UW-La Crosse Business Administration Dean William Colclough on developing and expanding the program on campus. She originally approached UW-La Crosse about becoming involved because of its reputable accountancy program. La Crosse faculty and staff received high praise during the initial trial experience, and the program has continued its collaboration with the university ever since.
Pryshlak says the program continues the collaboration because of the college's vision and ability to design programs geared toward the conditions and ever-changing needs in east Europe.
"The college's ability to design courses and involve people with growing expertise in issues affecting east Europe's financial sector are key factors," she explains. "The faculty truly invest a lot of time into the program and work expertly, often with dedication, to help improve the economic situation in these countries."
Participants of the program at UW-La Crosse are enrolled in either long-term education programs or short-term professional training courses. Many intern with institutions throughout the Coulee Region. Faculty also travel overseas to conduct training courses and in the process gain or expand their international experience.
Alumni of the program maintain contact with faculty and are multiplying the effects of their training by designing and conducting their own courses.
"There is a constant process of bringing in new people, as well as following up with the alumni," explains Pryshlak. "La Crosse truly has a niche in the financial sector throughout Eastern Europe."
Dean Colclough was contacted last fall by the editor of Poland's major economic journal to discuss its feature article on Andrzej Modrzejewski, head of PKN Orlen, Poland's largest company. Modrzejewski is considered one of the best managers in that country. He is an alum of the East Central European Scholarship Program and studied finance management at UW-La Crosse in 1994-95.
Pryshlak expects the program's partnership with UW-La Crosse to remain strong. "The university's College of Business Administration has been extremely flexible and very focused on helping participants meet their goals," she says. "We're really happy with the partnership."
Bradley Quarberg is associate director of university relations at UW-La Crosse.