LA CROSSE, Wis. -

Josh Whitman's final week as Director of Athletics at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse was kicked off with a send-off celebration.

Friends and work colleagues filled up Howie's in La Crosse on Monday to wish Whitman well before leaving for Washington University where he will serve in the same capacity.

"To walk around a room like this and have so many people show up just to talk with you before you leave, I think it really hits home the opportunity that I've had here as the athletic director."

Whitman's final day at UW-L will be Thursday, July 3.

"I hope I impacted a lot of people and made a positive difference in some people's lives and hopefully our community here. It's very humbling, very humbling."

"It really is like one of our family members is leaving so that is kind of sad," said UW-La Crosse Deputy Director of Athletics Kim Blum. "But the rest of us are still here and we'll go forward the best that we can."

Blum will serve a large role moving the Eagles athletic department forward. Next Monday her title changes to Interim Director of Athletics, a position she will hold for the upcoming school year.

"It's been a little hectic to say the least. But we're making progress on passing the torch. So it's a little sad but yet it's exciting."

Whitman says he's excited for Blum and the future of the UW-L athletic program.

"She's been involved in athletics now for almost 20 years at a very high level position. She's worked very closely with me over the last four years. Been involved in every significant decision we've made."