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New Res Hall Named for Former Chancellor


APRIL 29, 2005--The newest residence hall built on the UW-River Falls campus in more than 40 years and named for former chancellor George Field will be dedicated on May 9.

The ceremony will be held at 3:30 p.m. in the conference room of the George R. Field South Fork Suites.

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents in March voted to name the new facility for Field, based on the recommendation of the UW-RF Student Senate.

"This is a truly appropriate naming for the facility," remarked Interim Chancellor Virgil Nylander. "Chancellor Field led the campus for 17 years, coming here at a time of great difficulty socially. He was an advocate for ensuring that students, as well as faculty and staff, had a voice in setting the future direction of our campus.

"Placing his name on this residence hall is a wonderful way to acknowledge his commitment to students."

Field, who will speak at the dedication ceremony, said he was pleased by the students’ initiative to name the hall for him.

"UW-River Falls has been like a second home for me." He noted his mother was an Ellsworth native, while his father grew up in Red Wing, and so he was a frequent visitor to River Falls and the region throughout his childhood and adult years.

When he assumed the presidency of the then-Wisconsin State University-River Falls in 1968, "it was like coming home." At the time, Field was serving as the government relations representative for the WSU System in Madison.

"Leaving Madison to come here was a tough decision," Field recalls. "But it was a great opportunity for me. If I had to do my life over again, I would come here again."

The new George R. Field South Fork Suites, located on the east end of campus, will be home to 240 students. The $11.6 million facility is being constructed entirely from student funding.

The facility will be completed this spring and will be used for summer conferences. It will open to UW-RF students in August. There will be 60 four-person suites housing 240 students. Each suite will have four single bedrooms, a living room, a dining area/kitchenette and a bathroom. The entire building will be air-conditioned. Each of the eight wings has a large kitchen/lounge area for cooking meals and a laundry area.

Other public areas include the lobby, floor lounges, meeting rooms and a recreation room. There will be high speed Internet access in every room and elevator access to all floor levels.

"It’s a very impressive and beautiful building," said Field, who can see the residence hall from the home he shares with his wife, Marcella, who is a UW-RF alumna. "The design of the structure makes a lot of sense and it’s very positive in how it functions. It’s a great facility for our students."

A La Crosse native, Field earned a bachelor’s degree in geography from Carleton College and served a stint in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1953. He holds a master’s from the University of Colorado and a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, both in educational administration.

He taught junior high and served as a school principal in Wisconsin and Colorado before entering higher education administration at the University of Wisconsin. His last position there, immediately prior to accepting the presidency at River Falls, was vice president for University Development and State Relations for the state university system.

Field was inaugurated in 1968 and became chancellor when WSU-River Falls was merged into the University of Wisconsin System in 1972.

Field strengthened the shared governance decision-making structure of the University. He brought the Faculty Senate, the Student Senate and later the Academic Staff Council into the policy-making process as they gained statutory authority from the Legislature following the merger. Although founded in 1937, the Student Senate had primarily been involved in social activities, such as planning Homecoming, assembly programs and other events.

Field was particularly well-suited to ensuring that students played a much larger role in institutional decision-making. At the time he assumed the presidency at the relatively young age of 39, the campus, like others nationwide, was feeling the stress of the Vietnam War.

During his tenure, Field oversaw the cultural shift of the campus to becoming more inclusive while the campus experienced significant growth in student numbers and expansion of the physical plant. He retired in 1985.

Field says that during his tenure he was an advocate for faculty, and especially for students.

"I think our problem in part [in the 1960s] was to not give students enough credit that they were capable of making adult and mature decisions. I found that when students are confronted with a difficult situation that they make good decisions. I think they are very capable of running their own lives."

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Last updated: Tuesday, 22-Jun-2010 16:21:23 Central Daylight Time

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