University of Wisconsin-River Falls

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March 26, 2004


Coombs Named UW-RF Interim Chancellor

Virginia M. Coombs, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, has been named interim UW-RF chancellor by UW System President Katherine C. Lyall, effective immediately.

Coombs replaces Chancellor Ann M. Lydecker, who died in an automobile accident in rural Pierce County, Wisconsin, on March 25, 2004.

"I am deeply grateful that Ann Lydecker had put in place a very strong management team, and I have asked Ginny Coombs to serve as the interim chancellor for UW-River Falls," said Lyall. "I appreciate her willingness to help the campus through this difficult period. At the appropriate time, we will have more to say about the next steps in leadership transition, but at this time, we want to respect Ann's family and do what we can to remember and celebrate her life and achievements."

A former vice president for academic affairs at Oklahoma City University, Coombs was hired by Lydecker in May 2001.

As provost, Coombs has provided leadership in the planning, organization, and administration of the University's academic programs in the five colleges: Arts and Sciences; Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences; Business and Economics; Outreach and Graduate Studies; and Education and Professional Studies, as well as the departments of admissions, library and textbook services, registrar, grants and research and student life.

Coombs, who lives in Hudson, Wis., has been instrumental in coordinating the development of a new general education program and assisting the faculty in the design of new student outcomes assessment programs. She has also developed retention strategies for full-time, first-year students. In addition, Coombs has helped establish support for undergraduate student research, funded by the UW-River Falls Foundation, and she has designed a summer stipend program for student researchers.

Coombs is a board member of the Association of American Colleges and Universities and Wisconsin Women in Higher Education Leadership. She is chair of the American Conference of Academic Deans and has held various officer posts with ACAD since 1999. She is an evaluator for the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and a member of the District Eight Committee of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Coombs holds both a Ph.D. (1974) and A. M. (1970) in Germanic linguistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an A.B. (1968) in German studies from Denison University. She completed the Management Development Program at Harvard University in 1991 and the same year received the J.C.K. Preus Leadership Award from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Coombs' previous positions include visiting senior fellow in institutional advancement, The Sage Colleges, Troy, New York; vice president of academic affairs, dean and associate professor of German, Central College in Pella, Iowa; associate academic dean and associate professor of German at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn.; assistant to the president, Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Penn.; visiting assistant professor of Germanic linguistics, University of California-Berkeley; assistant professor of German, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Penn.; and assistant professor of German at Indiana University.

Coombs has spoken at many national conferences on such topics as encouraging faculty-student research, leadership and curriculum in liberal arts, women in higher education leadership, and leadership in the academy.

Publications include the book "A Semantic Syntax of Grammatical Negation in the Older German Dialects," coauthorship of an intermediate German language reader, and a test bank for the textbook, "Deutsch heute," 3rd edition. Her scholarly articles and book reviews have appeared in Modern Language Journal, American Journal of Germanic Linguistics and Literatures, Lingua, New German Studies, Die Unterrichtspraxis, Studies in Language Learning, German Quarterly, Orbis and others.

She is a member of the American Conference of Academic Deans, American Association of Higher Education, American Association of University Women, Association of American Colleges and Universities, American Association of Teachers of German, and Society for Germanic Linguistics.

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