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Faculty, Staff Welcomed Back to UWRF at Fall Opening Meeting


AUG. 25, 2008--Faculty and staff attending the University of Wisconsin-River Falls opening meeting today heard a message of leadership transition from Chancellor Connie Foster as the UWRF continues implementing its strategic plan, Living the Promise, instituted during the brief but productive tenure of former Chancellor Don Betz.

"This was a summer of significant transition in institutional leadership both on this campus and at campuses throughout the UW System," said Foster of the five administrative searches underway this year plus several more slated to start in 2009 at UWRF. "While leadership transitions are not without their obstacles and challenges--as well as their opportunities--the transition on this campus has been made easier by the familiarity of the faces in these new roles.

"For this ... year of change and transition in senior leadership, I ask you to remember that we are all in this together," she continued. "The changes in senior leadership require us to let go of what was once and move onward ... as we make a new beginning, experience new energy, and discover a new sense of purpose ... for us personally and for the campus as a whole."

Foster, who has taught at UWRF since 1984 and has served as dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies and as interim provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs before temporarily filling the position vacated by Betz in June, presented several new initiatives for the upcoming year.

In addition to the existing executive cabinets and faculty governance, a new administrative assembly will meet monthly and include department heads, additional faculty and staff as well as student representatives. Chancellor Foster also noted the creation of a new strategic enrollment plan and a task force for veterans and active military-duty students to meet anticipated services resulting from the new GI Bill, effective August 2009.

Foster showcased several accomplishments over the past year, including the UW System Board of Regents meeting on campus last October, a successful visit and assessment of UWRF by the Higher Learning Commission accreditation team, the opening of the Dairy Learning Center, ongoing efforts at achieving a carbon-neutral campus, numerous grant receipts, vibrant undergraduate research activities, and the university's position again as a top tier master's degree-granting university as selected by U.S. News and World Report.

River Falls Mayor Don Richards greeted the group with reminiscences of the 1950s when he was a student at UWRF and talked about the city's current efforts at becoming a sustainable community. "My hope is when a new chancellor is selected he or she will be a green chancellor for one of the greenest campuses in the Midwest."

Some 79 new faculty and staff in administrative departments and the four colleges were introduced by their respective deans and administrators. Brad Caskey, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a psychology professor and administrator at UWRF since 1990, joked that he was part of the "I-team," as several of his longstanding colleagues have accepted interim administrative positions.

These include: Terry Brown, interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, who was previously dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and who joined the UWRF English department in 1989; Faye Perkins, interim dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies, who joined the UWRF health and human performance department in 1988 and Brian Schultz, interim dean of the College of Business and Economics, who joined the UWRF economics department in 1979.  

Brown noted that achieving the goals of the strategic plan, "Living the Promise," will be challenging because "state support is diminishing as tuition increases at four times the rate of inflation and two times the rate of health care and energy costs in the same period." She observed that "higher education is increasing being recognized as a private and not a public good" and noted that the political climate in Wisconsin as well as intense competition from among peer institutions in Wisconsin and the Twin Cities have created a situation of "increasingly precious resources."

Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Mary Halada outlined several administrative efforts, including the progress made by a marketing consulting group, the UWRF Foundation's 60 th anniversary, IT and physical plant projects, and the results of a statewide budget repair bill requiring a $25 million give-back by UW System campuses. She also said that associate and assistant professor salaries now rank 8 th out of the 11 campuses, moving up from 10 th place.

Jim Madsen, physics professor and chair of the chancellor's search committee, gave an overview of the search and screen committee's progress in selecting a replacement for Betz, who rejoined the Regional University System of Oklahoma in June to become president of Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. A new chancellor could be named by late 2008, Madsen said.

Foster presented three staff members with the annual Chancellor's Award for Excellence: Mark Kinders, director of the UWRF University Communications Office; Ron Lundgren, an associate in Facilities Management, and Doreen Cegielski, a program associate in the Department of Animal and Food Science.

Finally, members of shared governance groups provided the staff with updates, including David Rainville, chair of the Faculty Senate; Kinders, chair of the Academic Staff Council; Dan Asp, treasurer of the Wisconsin Employees Union Local 351; and Cindy Bendix, president of the Student Senate.

"I've always heard that one voice makes a difference," said Bendix, who is in the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages program and is from Sturtevant, Wis. "I didn't realize the impact until I came to this campus. I am proud to play a role in helping students' voices be recognized."


Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:09:08 Central Daylight Time


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