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Board of Regents UWRF visit met with positive feedback

October 11, 2007

The UW Board of Regents returned to UW-River Falls for a very successful visit with students, staff and faculty Oct. 4 and 5.

Throughout their visit, the Regents had multiple opportunities to tour campus facilities, such as the University Center, view presentations concerning everything from budget issues and strategic planning to sustainability and global engagement, as well as sit down and talk with students about the issues they consider to be most important.

Displays featuring everything from the history of UWRF to its sustainability kiosk in the University Center remained up for the duration of the Regents’ visit. Other concurrent events gave Regents a chance to see the types of causes students are involved in on campus.

For Regent Jesus Salas, the outdoor art installations made for an interesting walk around campus.

“On those two days the weather was wonderful, and it was such a pleasure stepping outside of the University Center to enjoy the art exhibit on the grounds,” Salas said.

For Salas, the campus visit was especially enjoyable due to his previous interaction with UWRF. Each year, Regents choose two campuses in the UW System that they would like to get to know more in depth and become “buddy Regents,” Salas said. For him, UWRF was an obvious choice.

“I chose UWRF because I had visited the campus in my youth and more recently I was the on search and screen committee that brought us Chancellor Betz,” Salas said. “I was at his inauguration, the groundbreaking of the Dairy Learning Center … those visits made such an impression on me.”

Because of prior visits, the tour of the Dairy Learning Center Oct. 4 was especially impressive, due not only to its “extraordinary one-of-a-kind layout,” but the fact that such a variety of students, both male and female, are involved in it, Salas said.

“For me, the highlight of the visit was meeting and talking with students and it began [at the DLC tour] with me meeting two of the herd managers, both women,” Salas said.

While the business portion of the meetings discussed important issues such as the state budget, it was the discussion of these issues directly with students that had the most impact, Salas said.

Students had a chance to meet and talk with Regents directly during an evening reception Oct. 4 and a subsequent breakfast Oct. 5. Although early, the breakfast meeting proved to be “most insightful,” Salas said.

“Regent Walsh and I sat at a table with a young woman who had grown up on a farm, a TESOL student who wanted to visit Germany, an aspiring middle school math teacher, and a music student who wanted to conduct,” Salas said. “Not only was the breakfast meeting thoroughly enjoyable, but it reinforced my view that the UWRF campus community is truly unique.”

Shelby Rabbelke, a senior and manager of First Year Experience, attended the breakfast meeting and spoke at length with Regent Brent Smith. Rabbelke said she found it to be enjoyable and worthwhile.

“It was really cool to see how much he enjoyed everything,” Rabbelke said. “He said they were all really impressed with campus.”

Not only were they interesting to talk business with, but enjoyable to spend time with on a personal level, Rabbelke said.

“We got him hooked on hockey,” she said.

Sophomore and FYE staff member Becca Peine said she believes the experience was good for us as a campus overall.

“They don’t always have the chance to come out and meet us, so to have everyone in one place was a good chance to show them what we have,” Peine said. “Hopefully they’ll be more willing to come back.”

Student Senate Vice President Sara Deick said that although some of the discussion centered around budget issues and helping students become more informed about financial issues, it was the personable attitude of the Regents that she found most striking.

“They’re all really great people…so easy to talk to and interested in learning about what students think,” Deick said. “Having them here was a good chance to fill them in on what we want and need [as students].”

Regent Judy Crain summed up the visit as an excellent meeting and enjoyable opportunity for Regents and students to come together and get to know each other.

“UWRF was a marvelous host,” Crain said. “It is obvious that UWRF is a thriving, exciting place to be these days.”

Regent President Mark Bradley said that the efforts of students and faculty to create a pleasant campus are evident to anyone who visits.

“It was obvious that the students, faculty and administration are working to differentiate UW-River Falls from other comprehensive campuses in the UW System,” Bradley said. “Your clear message is that you have worked to define your campus values and that you take them seriously.”