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UWRF Moving Forward During Time of Transition  

OCT. 13, 2008--In a play on an acronym used for a local television investigative reporting unit, UW-River Falls Interim Dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies Faye Perkins now refers to herself as a member of the campus "I-Team," with the "i" standing for "interim."

Perkins is one of seven senior administrators who are serving in interim roles as national searches are either underway or will soon be launched for leadership positions.

Turnover is now a way of life among higher education institutions nationally with the aging of the Baby Boom generation, among other factors, according to Interim Chancellor Connie Foster.

Key to an institution, she says, is a commitment to progress, regardless of whomever is at the helm. She notes the institution continues to move forward on implementing its strategic plan, "Living the Promise," which is guiding the campus into a five-year vision. It emphasizes 10 operational and strategic functions, including globalization, diversity, sustainability and leadership initiatives.

"The strategic direction and overall priorities of the institution remain unchanged due to the vision outlined in our strategic plan. Our guideposts will continue to be the goals, initiatives, and tasks of our strategic plan.   We are not slowing down this year--we are in an acceleration mode," Foster says.

She notes that UWRF is in a competitive position for recruiting senior leaders. Most notably, a chancellor search-and-screen committee is reviewing applicants to replace former Chancellor Don Betz, who left in July to assume the presidency of Northeastern State University in Oklahoma.

UW System President Kevin Reilly is expected to name five finalists on Nov. 18, with campus visits, including with community members, to occur between Nov. 20 and Dec. 6. The UW System Board of Regents will name the chancellor-elect on Dec. 23.

According to Foster, there are several factors that make UWRF particularly attractive. These include a sound strategic plan, as well as a glowing review by the Higher Learning Commission after an exhaustive site review visit, which guarantees accreditation for the next decade.

Continued student population growth and the charm of River Falls, the quality of life in the St. Croix Valley and the campus's proximity to the Twin Cities, also are plusses to create an attractive environment, Foster says.

"UWRF remains a desirable destination for students from both Wisconsin and Minnesota," Foster notes. "UWRF's fall enrollment is the largest in its 134-year history, and the academic profile of our freshman class continues to improve."

Foster reports that UWRF enjoys substantial institutional experience among its current administrative ranks. All of those on the 13-member Chancellor's Cabinet have been at UWRF for more than two years with a majority of members having more than a decade of experience at UWRF.

Interim appointees include Terry Brown, 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; Perkins, dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies, who joined the UWRF health and human performance department in 1988 and chaired it for five years; and Brian Schultz, dean of the College of Business and Economics, who joined the UWRF economics department in 1979 and served as associate dean.

Lisa Wheeler will soon replace Mary Halada, who is retiring from her position as vice chancellor for administration and finance. Wheeler currently serves as the chief information officer and dates her relationship with UWRF to 1989 as assistant dean of students.

Dan McGinty is serving as interim president of the UWRF Foundation, and previously served as alumni director. McGinty holds bachelor's and master's degrees from UWRF and joined the professional ranks in 1980, splitting his time between admissions, financial aid, and serving as an assistant basketball coach.

Foster joined the UWRF faculty as a health and human performance professor and coach in 1984, and subsequently was department chair, college dean, and interim provost.

She notes that turnover among faculty, staff and administrators will continue to accelerate with the aging of the Baby Boom generation. For example, nearly two-thirds of UWRF's 270 faculty will be eligible for retirement within a decade.

"We will continue to see accelerating turnover as faculty, staff and administrators retire or are lured away by other institutions who are competing for talented people in a tight national supply market. But I'm confident that UWRF is now and will remain a healthy university committed to and fulfilling our mission of education, research and outreach," Foster says.



Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:09:14 Central Daylight Time


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