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February 2, 2001

UW-RF Given Approval for 'New Economy' Initiatives

UW-River Falls has created a new College and is upgrading the positions of two senior administrators to better assist business and industry as western Wisconsin pursues New Economy initiatives.

The changes were approved Thursday (Feb. 1) by the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents at the request of Chancellor Ann Lydecker.

"The Regents were extremely supportive of our proposals. Many of them participated in the recent Wisconsin New Economy Summit in Milwaukee, and they recognized our campuses' activities as the kind of 'quick response' in higher education that is critical to positioning the state for the 21st Century economy," Lydecker said.

The Regents approved:

•Elevating the status of the School of Business & Economics to the College of Business & Economics. Lydecker said this will provide several advantages to the faculty and the 1,100 students in the School, which was founded three years ago. These include placing the division on equal footing with UW-RF's three existing colleges for planning purposes.

The new designation, effective next September, also will add value to the degree for students and alumni.

In her presentation to the Regents, Lydecker explained that creating a College, "will give the unit greater prominence as befits its leadership role in developing the economy of the St. Croix Valley."

Included in UW-RF's New Economy St. Croix Valley planning region are Barron, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix counties.

•Upgrading the new College's leadership position to Dean stature from the current Director's position, which has gone unfilled. Lydecker noted the title change will improve the University's recruiting position when searching nationally for a key leader and faculty for the College, and enhance the potential role for the College in advancing regional economic development.

•Upgrading the Director's position for University Outreach to a Dean's position for Outreach and Graduate Studies. Lydecker related that the upgrade also would enhance UW-RF's potential for recruiting an innovative leader to take an important liaison position in matching faculty experts to requests for credit and non-credit course offerings in the region.

•Launching a national search for a Provost and Vice Chancellor to replace Robert Milam, who assumed new responsibilities in January.

Milam, who has served as interim director of the School of Business & Economics as well as provost, during spring semester will develop action plans, follow-up activities, and funding proposals for advancing regional economic development. Those will be based on recommendations that emerged at the five-county St. Croix Valley Regional Economic Forum hosted by UW-RF in October and the statewide Economic Summit. He also will lead the College's efforts for academic accreditation. An economist, Milam rejoins the faculty next fall.

Professor Glenn Potts was named by Lydecker to assume the interim directorship of SBE. Potts had served as associate director.

Lydecker noted the state economic summit outlined a massive plan of action that will take up to five years to put into place as Wisconsin ensures it keeps pace with extraordinary technological changes.

UW-RF will continue to provide regional leadership on key issues identified by state leaders in business, industry, government and education. This week the University hosted a regional follow-up forum to explore solutions to providing continuing workforce development for quality jobs. In March it will host a forum on encouraging entrepreneurship and identifying the sources and techniques for attracting venture capital investment in regional New Economy businesses.

"We have mapped out strategies. We have devised action plans. We are on our way," Lydecker said of the Regents' actions.

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