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Van Galen recommended for chancellor by Board of Regents

December 19, 2008

A recommendation for the new UW-River Falls chancellor was announced Friday, Dec. 19, by a UW System Board of Regents special committee.

Dean Van Galen, vice president for university advancement at the University of West Florida (Pensacola, Fla.), was named by UW System President Kevin Reilly and the committee, after being one of five finalists selected by a search and screen committee consisting of 19 UWRF faculty members and students.

Van Galen will replace Interim Chancellor Connie Foster, who took over when Don Betz resigned June 30.

“I’m very excited about [the recommendation]. I had a wonderful visit to River Falls earlier in the semester and I think it is a wonderful university moving in a great direction,” Van Galen said. “The focus of the University of global literacy, sustainability and inclusion, I think are very important, and I’m interested in working with the University to move those efforts forward.”

Van Galen is a Waupun, Wis., native and graduate of UW-Whitewater, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry. He received his doctorate in analytical chemistry from Kansas State University.

“[My wife and I] are excited about coming home,” Van Galen said.

The faculty, search committee and the regents think Van Galen is the best choice because he’s a good fit for the campus, similar to the late Ann Lydecker and Don Betz, UWRF Director of Media Relations Kevin Harter said.

“He brings a wealth of educational expertise, but also a wealth of knowledge and know-how on fundraising, which is vital now to most universities,” Harter said.

Van Galen’s fundraising experience could be beneficial in the current tough economy.

UWRF faces some serious budget challenges, Van Galen said.

“I think the strategic plan that is in place, Living the Promise, should help guide budget decisions,” he said. “I do think that over time I will want to have the University pursue increased private support, especially for areas such as need-based scholarships, to help to keep attendance affordable.”

Van Galen started his career as a chemistry professor in 1987 at Truman State University (Kirksville, Mo.). He then served as vice president for advancement at Truman State before moving onto the University of West Florida in 2003.

The hire will not become official until the Board of Regents meets in January.

“They will set salary and the final details will be put in place,” Harter said. “Now that the Regents are finished at UWRF, they move to the next chancellor search which is at UW-Green Bay.”

Van Galen is a good educator but is also involved in the community and the region, Harter said.

“He’s a very community minded chancellor,” Harter said. “That’s what this campus values.”

Van Galen said he would like to continue to support and enhance the University’s strategic plan.

“[I plan] to help the University address the budget cuts that the UW System will likely face,” he said. “Also, to look at the future in terms of enrollment and to start a comprehensive fundraising campaign to enhance the University’s academic mission and provide greater opportunity for students.”