Chancellor Thibodeau

University of Wisconsin - River Falls

Dec. 10, 1996

Chancellor to Pursue Special Projects

UW-River Falls Chancellor Gary A. Thibodeau will participate in a six-month reassignment from the campus to pursue special projects in higher education, including emerging issues, information technologies, and international exchange programs.

Thibodeau will begin his leave on Jan. 1 and return to campus on June 30. Provost Robert Milam has been authorized to assume daily decision-making authority by University of Wisconsin System President Katharine Lyall.

"It is unusual that a chancellor is given the opportunity to engage in off-campus assignments of this duration," Thibodeau explained.

"I think the benefits are very obvious, and they are comparable to what you would anticipate accruing to a faculty member on a sabbatical or an academic staff person on a professional development leave. Hopefully, the benefits will accrue not only to me, but to the campus and to the System."

Thibodeau, who is in his 12th academic year as chancellor, noted that such leaves for higher education chief executive officers are becoming more common nationally.

During his reassignment, Thibodeau said, he will participate in numerous projects:

  • Spend a month in Washington, D.C., writing a report on emerging issues in higher education for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. AASCU is an association of about 500 higher education institutions with missions similar to UW-River Falls.

    Thibodeau, who has been a member of numerous AASCU study groups, said the committee report will explore emerging issues in higher education at the national level, including higher education funding, collaborative partnerships, and the changing expectations of the workplace and their impact on what students must learn.

  • Evaluate methods to measure faculty workload as teaching techniques evolve to accomodate the evolution of information technologies. This will include adapting traditional higher education objectives of instilling critical thinking and learning skills to fit into information technologies as an instructional technique.

  • Reviewing the Wisconsin In Scotland collaborative study abroad program between UWS campuses in River Falls, La Crosse, Eau Claire, and Stout in Menomonie. The 10-year-old program places students in a semester-long resident student program at Dalkeith House in Edinburgh, Scotland.

  • Expanding UW-RF educational relationships with higher education institutions in Europe and the Pacific Rim.

    UW-RF is the site for a Center for Pacific Rim Studies, and has generated numerous students and faculty exchange programs with higher education institutions both in Taiwan and Mainland China. Thibodeau hopes to extend those relationships.

  • The chancellor said he will continue to participate in selected campus activities related to UW-RF's five-year strategic plan, "Reach for the Future." That program, now in its 18th month, is reallocating funds across the campus to address issues related to information technology and academic programs.

    "I'm appreciative of President Lyall providing me with the opportunity to participate in this reassignment. I'm very comfortable in leaving the campus because of the strong and seasoned leadership of Provost Milam and Vice Chancellor (Virgil) Nylander.

    "I look forward to returning to the campus this summer with additional perspectives on the many emerging higher education issues that will have an impact on UW-River Falls into the next century." Thibodeau said.

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