||Schofield Hall 218|
||Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
UW-Eau Claire Honors
MAILED: June 17, 1998|
EAU CLAIRE -- When Vagn Andersen died in 1996, he left behind hundreds of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire alumni whose lives he had touched.
This year, UW-Eau Claire gave a little something back to him.
In a small spring ceremony, members of the international studies program planted a beech tree by the west side of McIntyre Library in honor of the former Danish school principal.
The beech tree is especially prominent in Denmark and was chosen for that reason, said Robert Frost, director of the Center for International Education at UW-Eau Claire.
"When I was there, they made it a point to take me to the beech forests," said David Crowe, professor emeritus of biology. "It is the effort of the Danish government to restore some of the beech forest."
Beech do not typically thrive in northwestern Wisconsin, but Frost said they hope this one has staying power.
Andersen was introduced to the study abroad program in 1986.
A lot of the international programs Frost started throughout the years were based in small towns where he had some interaction with community people. Andersen was among those people who volunteered, Frost said.
Through advertisements in the local newspaper of Randers, Denmark, and by way of his connections as a former elementary school principal, Andersen arranged the homestays of UW-Eau Claire students without expecting a reward or payment, Frost said.
"We have been committed to the idea that the program should not cost more than the average student can afford to pay," Frost said.
Andersen's commitment to the university lasted until his death, about 10 years after the program started.
"Andersen was a very unusual, very outgoing man," said Crowe, who had stayed with the Andersen family during the first Denmark trip. "He had a remarkable ability to relate with students and was very friendly and good-natured."
UW-Eau Claire impressed Andersen, Frost said. "He was a friend in all senses of the word," he said.
Programs like Randers continue at UW-Eau Claire and offer students the chance to broaden their horizons, Frost said.
"It also helps the university whose objective is to broaden the perspective of students," he said. "It takes students out of the culture that has trained them and opens their minds to other possibilities. It's an exciting opportunity."
That exciting opportunity is one that allowed Crowe and others to form valued friendships with individuals like Andersen.
"Since the first trip we've been back to Denmark, he's come here and we've done some traveling," Crowe said. "It was his boyhood dream of traveling across the United States. We got part of the way across."
Now, midway across UW-Eau Claire's campus there is a reminder of Andersen's willing spirit and how his efforts branched out to touch the lives of many others.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: June 17, 1998