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Chancellor supports reshuffling

September 20, 2007

The arrival of the 2007 fall semester at UW-River Falls brings with it not only changes in the trees, but also various changes in senior leadership positions at the University.

Numerous faculty members have taken on new roles at UWRF and Chancellor Don Betz said that he believes every change will contribute to the betterment of the institution.

The domino effect began as Connie Foster transitioned to the interim provost position as a result of former Provost Charlie Hurt going back to teaching in the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems.  Faye Perkins has stepped in for Foster as the interim dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies.  Susan Tarr has taken Perkins’ position at interim status as the chair of the Health and Human Performance (HHP) Department.  Mark Meydam has taken on a new role as the director of admissions.

“The number of changes that have occurred have not been extreme, but they have been purposeful,” Betz said.

He said that he has a vision for the University and is working to make that vision a reality through a thorough review of the leadership team at UWRF as a whole.
Betz said it is his responsibility as chancellor to develop a leadership equation that includes a combination of individual strengths, which he must be conscious of.
“You try to meet the needs in the best interest of the institution in the long run,” Betz said.

Foster said Betz offered her the interim provost position in June. 

Betz said that he and Hurt made a mutual decision for Hurt to step down as provost and return to his teaching position.

Hurt and Foster declined to comment on the exact reasons behind the change, while Betz said it was “about the issue of the fit and building the team.”
Both Hurt and Betz said they still hold each other in high regard and remain friends.

After five-and-a-half years as chair of the HHP department, Perkins was asked by Betz in July to fill Foster’s old position at interim status. The decision did not come easy, as she had to temporarily resign from her 19-year softball coaching position at UWRF.  Perkins said she is confident that she can hold her own in her new position.

“It was a hard decision, but it was an opportunity I could not say no to,” Perkins said.  “I feel that I have the history, knowledge and experience to step in on this position on an interim basis.”

Perkins’ position in the HHP department needed to be filled and Tarr accepted the opportunity.

“I did so knowing that I could lead the department for the year and continue to move our faculty, staff, students and programs forward during this interim time period,” Tarr said.

Jody Gabriel, previously assistant coach to Perkins, has become the temporary head coach of the softball team.  Perkins said she thinks Gabriel will do well and the transition will be smooth. 

Senior Ashley Bertrand, a pitcher on the team, said she agrees.

“She knows the game well and will take us in the right direction,” Bertrand said.

Meydam was named director of admissions in June.  He said he brings “An understanding that everyone at the University is here to help students learn.” 
He also said the various changes in the administration are for the better.

“This now brings the staff members of the admissions office, financial aid, registrar and accounts receivable together as a team,” Meydam said.

All of the interim positions are under a 13-month contract, while a national search and screening process will take place for a permanent provost.

Betz said that comparative to other universities throughout the nation the Wisconsin system has a very “lean” leadership structure, which can be difficult on many levels.

“The people that serve in senior leadership positions are overburdened,” Betz said.  “They find themselves with an insufficient amount of budget and human resources.”

According to a July 16 UWRF Public Affairs news release, the Wisconsin Assembly recently made a vote that would reduce the University’s operational budget by $2.8 million over the next two years.

“The good news is the people here are very good at using resources,” Betz said.

Betz said that with a lack of such resources it is important to consider the senior leadership structure in every dimension, and to make sure the University is using everything it has to its maximum potential.