Chancellor-elect Dean Van Galen speaks about upcoming position at UW-River Falls
April 16, 2009
Explain to the average student what a chancellor does.
The chancellor is the leader of the university and is responsible for the longer term success of the university and in particular represents, in this case, UW-River Falls, externally, to the system president and obard of regents, to the community, and to its alumni and friends
What kind of qualifications and experience do you have for the job?
My background is a faculty member. I taught chemistry for many years and have a doctorate in analytical chemistry. For the last 12 years I’ve been in u administration in the area of advancement. Advancement includes alumni relations, fundraising, marketing and communications and representing the university externally.
What do you want to accomplish in your first few years at UWRF?
The first thing I want to do is learn more about UWRF. I want to learn about its history, its traditions, and its people. And I think the best way to do that is to listen and to have face to face visits with faculty, staff, students, and members of the community. A very important priority is to complete the University’s strategic plan, Living the Promise. There is a great deal of consensus on campus that that plan is a strong plan, and I’m very committed to using that as a roadmap over the next several years.
What is the strategic plan?
It is entitled Living the Promise, and it has a number of strategic priorities. At the center of those priorities are to build a culture of learning, and to me, that reflects the university’s central focus on teaching and learning and putting the students at the center of all that we do.
What makes UWRF unique for prospective students?
I think it’s unique in that it is an institution where the faculty and staff genuinely value students and where teaching and learning in all its forms are really the foundation of everything the university does. UWRF is characterized by faculty who care about the students, by small class sizes where faculty and students can benefit from a great deal of interaction, and a place where students are given opportunities such as study abroad and participating in undergraduate research and scholarship. So in many ways, it is a place where the very best of higher education is offered at an affordable price.
How do you plan to do to deal with the budget cuts UWRF is experiencing and the generally poor economy?
I think in difficult budget times it is all the more important to focus on the univeristy’s strategic plan. That needs to be our guide and our roadmap in making difficult decisions regarding budget and resources. Fortunately UW-River Falls has a strong strategic plan and I will continue Interim Chancellor Foster’s efforts at using that plan as a guide.
Do you have any plans to continue UWRF’s going green and sustainability?
Absolutely. It is one of the pillars of living the promise, and as I learned more about UW-River Falls I was very excited there was such a commitment to sustainability. To me, that is exemplified by the University Center and the commitment the students have to make that a very sustainable building.
UWRF has had three chancellors since Ann Lydecker died; do you see this job as a long-term career option?
Absolutely. I am a native of Wisconsin. Both my wife and I grew up in southern Wisconsin and met at the Univeristy of Wisconsin-Whitewater. For us this is a coming home and UW-River Falls is the type of institution that is a good fit for me and I plan to be here a very long time.
Is there anything else you want to say to the student body?
I’m very excited about the opportunity to serve as chancellor and I look forward to spending time with the students. Getting to know them, listening to their dreams and their concerns and being very accessible to the students. In the end that’s why we’re all here.