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Falcon Promise initiatives spur growth, progress

November 11, 2011

UW-River Falls has started the Falcon Promise with hopes to improve student learning in the classroom and increase research opportunities.

The Falcon Promise is a “differential tuition initiative that will invest student funds in four initiatives of importance to students and to the success of UWRF,” as defi ned in a UWRF administrative handout that was given out to Student Senate members on Nov. 1. These four initiatives include Tutoring, Undergraduate Research Opportunities, Increased Student Scholarships and Enhanced Learning Spaces.

An increase of $88 per year is called for to fund the Falcon Promise which will phase in over three years and will come to an estimated $166,000 per year. This will be additional to the $72 students currently pay. When the amount is fully added, students will pay $160 in differential tuition. The University will then match the amount students pay for the Falcon Promise, dollar for dollar.

Compared to all other UW schools, UWRF is still the third lowest in differential tuition. Last year students at UWRF paid $72 in differential tuition while the highest UW school, UWLa Crosse students, paid $1,150.

The total amount of this fi rst year of changes will be an estimated $111,104. Of that total $52,920 will be used for technology and $58,184 will be used for facilities. As of right now an estimated 208 new desks will be purchased and sent to selected classrooms.

This money has already started to be utilized to improve several classrooms throughout the campus. Kleinpell Fine Arts is currently the main focus with six classrooms being renovated. Three other classrooms were chosen as well, one in North Hall and the other two in Centennial Science Hall. These renovations include improved technology such as new projectors, computers, desks and other furniture.

“Over time this will transform to provide a better learning environment,” said Chancellor Dean Van Galen. “Some of these classrooms are 30 years old and this will allow us to take a step forward.”

On Tuesday, Nov. 1 members of the UWRF administration met with Student Senate and spent over an hour walking to each of the chosen classrooms for the Falcon Promise and answered questions as well as explained what is being changed and why. One of the main goals with the improved technology stemmed from student feed back.

“We would like students to not have to worry about knowing the technology,” said Steve Reed, director of the division of technology services (DoTs). “We would like it to be the same in all of the classrooms.”

New desks were also major concerns in some of these classrooms as the desks are becoming outdated. “A lot of faculty and students like to break down into research teams and learn in a group setting,” said Fernando Delgado, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “We also have to be flexible with the space to try and match varying teaching methods.”

During this first year, formal classrooms are the main focus.

“We would like to add power and improve the wireless internet in each building,” said Reed. Another focus that will be looked at in the future is informal study areas. “Professors have stated they want spaces to meet with small groups of students outside of class,” said Mike Stifter, director of facilities management.