Student Voice


April 23, 2024




Student Voice editor spends day in life of UWRF chancellor

December 9, 2011

Growing up and going through the school system, the greatest fear of every young child was being sent to the principal’s office. As we moved on to pursue our college education, we no longer have recess or a principal; instead, we at UW-River Falls have a chancellor, Dean Van Galen.

We all know he exists, but what exactly does a chancellor do? A chancellor is known as the “face” of the university, and ensures that the educational and professional goals of UWRF are met. Recently, he let me shadow him for a few days so we could find out what happens among the catacombs of the first floor of North Hall.

And I can tell you confidentially: being sent to his office is not nearly as frightening as being sent to the principal’s office.

Chancellor’s schedule (these were the events that I accompanied Chancellor Van Galen):

Tuesday, November 29

7:00-8:00 a.m.: Rotary at Ezekiel Lutheran Church- The Rotary Club of River Falls meets every Tuesday morning and is committed to humanitarian service. The group featured members from both the campus and River Falls community. Even though the Chancellor “had” to introduce me as a Vikings’ fan (and gently reminded me that his Green Bay Packers are 12-0), the meeting was a kind reminder of what we can do with our time on Earth.

8:30-9:30 a.m.: External Relations Staff Meeting in the North Hall Conference Room (114 North Hall) The Chancellor met with Blake Fry (special assistant to the Chancellor), Chris Mueller (executive director of University Advancement), and Amy Christensen (marketing specialist) to discuss, among other things, the Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan will help shape the future of UWRF for the next five years.

10:00–11:00 a.m.: Chancellor met with Student Senate President Tyler Halverson in the Chancellor’s office. They discussed issues pertaining to the Senate reserve account and student funding, along with updates on the budget lapse.

12:00-1:00 p.m.: Lunch in University Center (This was where we switched roles as the Chancellor had lunch with me at Riverside Commons. He got to enjoy the food that UWRF students have everyday.

3:00 – 3:30 p.m.: Paperwork and interview. This was where I got to ask the Chancellor about his journey to becoming UWRF’s 18th Chancellor. His office is nestled on the first floor of North Hall. After becoming Chancellor, he chose the yellow painting with white-shuddered windows to don his office. His office depicted memories (including an autographed Bart Starr display) and the key to the city of River Falls.

Wednesday, November 30

8-9:00 a.m.: Chemistry 100 Lecture, 211 Centennial Science Hall. The Chancellor went back in time to give a guest lecture to a chemistry class. Van Galen was a professor of chemistry at Truman State University in Missouri starting in 1987. Van Galen described himself as a “hard professor, but loved the interaction with students.”

Thursday, December 1

3:00–4:30 p.m.: Chancellor’s advisory council. This group meets twice a year with UWRF administration. At the meeting, around 15 different business leaders and University staff gathered to discuss future plans for UWRF. This included discussion on the mission, vision, core values and strategic goals for the next five years. Projects discussed included advanced enumeration for the health and human performance building and the Cascade project.

Friday, December 2

9:00-9:25 a.m.: Welcome perspective students. Riverview Ballroom, University Center. The Chancellor highlighted what makes UWRF unique: the location and the commitment to students through faculty interaction, undergraduate research and study abroad options. UWRF is second in the UW-System in percentage of students who study abroad.

Monday, December 5

9-9:45 a.m.: Chancellor’s Cabinet (Chancellor, Provost Delgado, Vice Chancellor Joseph Harbouk, Associate Vice Chancellor Gregg Heinselman, Chief Diversity Officer Andriel Dees, Special Assistant Blake Fry and University Advancement Executive Director Chris Mueller)

Throughout these meetings I learned that the Chancellor’s job requires sound leadership and collaboration with University leaders.

Van Galen posses the qualities we would look for in a leader. He is firm, yet personable. He brings a realm of knowledge into each aspect of his job. He believes in the University’s mission of academic excellence, global engagement, innovation, inclusiveness and a commitment to students.

Each decision he and the people he has surrounded himself with have a direct impact on the current and future sustainability of UWRF. He spends about three days a week on the campus of UWRF. The other two days he usually spends representing the University and its needs across the state, usually at Madison.

I do not envy the Chancellor’s job. It is one that would require a great deal of patience, and a thorough understanding of the financial and academic realms. But most importantly, it requires a vision; a vision to leave this campus a little better than how we found it. “All of us here today are stewards of UWRF. The decisions we make impact generations. UWRF was built by the good works of many people, dating back to 1874. Now is the time for us to take responsibility as we seek to move forward,” Van Galen said.

Ashley Goettl is an alumna of UW-River Falls. She was editor of the Student Voice from fall semester 2011 to spring semester 2013.