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Last updated: Saturday, 14-Mar-2009 19:11:02 Central Daylight Time

April 14, 2000


UW-RF Education Building Named for Walker D. Wyman

A new state-of-the-art teacher education building at UW-River Falls has been named for a life-long Wisconsin educator, historian and its first Honorary Folklorist.

The new $6.5 million center was named the "Walker D. Wyman Education Building" by the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents on April 7.

A plaque commemorating Wyman will be unveiled at 11:30 a.m. during an official naming ceremony on May 10 coinciding with the University's day-long 125th anniversary celebration.

Wyman was associated with public higher education for more than six decades that began in 1932 at the State Teacher's College in River Falls. During those decades Wyman served River Falls and Wisconsin higher education as a professor of history, scholar, author, publisher, administrator and benefactor.

His many accomplishments and legacies included serving as President of the Wisconsin State University at Whitewater; founding the UW-River Falls University Press; authoring 23 books chronicling the pioneers of Wisconsin and the Midwest; and donating the proceeds of his books and his estate to UW-RF.

Chancellor Gary A. Thibodeau said the nomination, forwarded by faculty in the College of Education and by the University, signalizes Wyman's exceptional contributions to public higher education.

"This new building provided the opportunity to honor Walker Wyman's memory as a truly outstanding academician, and the Board of Regents supported that nomination unanimously and enthusiastically.

"Walker Wyman was a remarkable person. He was a master teacher, a prolific publisher, and a wonderful mentor to his students and to his colleagues. He had a real love for this campus. Achieving the naming of this building for Walker Wyman is one of the high points of my career through 15 years of service here as chancellor; that is how strongly I feel about this," Thibodeau said.

"He was a giant of a man in his ethics, his morality, and his intellect. I'm absolutely delighted that we had the opportunity to name this building for this incredible person," Thibodeau said.

The building houses a College that enjoys a national reputation for teacher preparation innovation and in the use of technology.

The National Education Association cited the College as one of the 10 most innovative teacher education programs in the nation for its field-based experiences for student teachers in partnership with surrounding school districts and for its use of technology in teacher training.

Last year the College was honored nationally for in excellence in the use of technology by the American Association of Teacher Education and Microsoft. That recognition was based on its partnering with the River Falls, Hudson and Prescott school districts and St. Bridget's School in River Falls to expand the use of technology as a teaching tool in K-12 classrooms.

Wyman, at the time of his death in March 1999 at the age of 91, had recently published his 23rd book, "Great Legends and Stories of Mid-America." He was a contributing author to many other books, in addition to publishing scores of scholarly works and publications. An avid diarist, Wyman had written over 100 personal journals, which he donated to the State Historical Society archives.

His 1979 book, "Wisconsin Folklore," became one of his most popular and rewarding works. It originated from a UW-Extension radio course that was published weekly in more than 10 Wisconsin dailies and 50 weekly newspapers. It contributed in part to Wisconsin Gov. Lee Dreyfus that year naming Wyman as Wisconsin's first "Honorary Folklorist."

From 1962-67, Wyman left UW-RF to serve as president of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater during a period of extensive growth to accommodate a generation of "baby boomers" seeking a university education. During his tenure, more than 3,000 persons were added to the student body and 20 new buildings were completed or started. The campus mall there is named in his honor.

Wyman's contributions earned him numerous accolades, including designation as the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents "Centennial Distinguished Professor of History." At UW-River Falls his support of the arts is memorialized through the Wyman Performance Series named for Wyman and his wife Helen, who illustrated many of his books.

He received an honorary doctorate of laws from Illinois State University; an Award of Merit from the Western History Association for his distinguished contributions to the cause of western history; an Outstanding Educator award from the Wisconsin Association of School Administrators; and was a Distinguished Professor of History at UW-RF.


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