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David Rodli Hall open house invites public

February 12, 2020

Ribbon cutting at Rodli
Joined by guests and other university officials, UWRF Chancellor Dean Van Galen cuts the ribbon during the grand opening of David Rodli Hall. (Photo by Sara Ollig and Angelique Tretsven)

On Feb. 3, UW-River Falls celebrated the opening of David Rodli Hall. The university recently finished its $15.9 million renovations, turning the former campus dining hall into the campus’ Student Success Center. Since 2007 the building had been used for both storage and classes, but is now home to 14 departments.

The opening ceremony had speakers, refreshments, and a trivia game to tour the building. Speakers included Chancellor Dean Van Galen, along with Cris Peterson, a member of the UW System Board of Regents. Tate Schilchting, the UWRF Student Senate president, and Sue Rodli Astin, the daughter of David Rodli and 1971 UWRF alumna, also spoke.

The project took 13 years to complete. The funding came partially from the state of Wisconsin, paying $11.9 million from their tax dollars, and another $4 million came from student segregated fees.

Chancellor Dean Van Galen explained that back in 2007, the student senate approved the budget for an enrollment services center. Over the years, more offices have become what the university defines as essential for student success. The Rodli building has become a lot more than just an enrollment office, but has remained true to the idea of being a “one-stop-shop” for students on campus and those seeking enrollment.

The idea is that Rodli will be the new “front door” to campus. Chancellor Van Galen explained, “We wanted to build and provide a welcoming space for students. With stones and images similar to the University Center and Lydecker, we wanted to continue with warm fireplaces and modern architecture,” said Van Galen.

Van Galen explained that the placement of the offices in the building was intentional, purposed to spark inspiration and encourage students to succeed and use the resources available to them.

David Rodli Hall was built in 1968 as a dining hall. The building had two separate dining rooms, a green and a blue room. In an interview with the Chancellor, he described the rooms named after the 60’s colored carpets located in each room. He said it was a great space for students but hosted a few food fights in its time. “One of our graduates said, ‘It started with a spoonful of green jello.’”

Walking through the front doors, University guests are welcomed to the Admissions office's new space. Nicole Beyer, an Admissions Counselor working to recruit prospective students, says she loves the change, “I am super excited for the ease of access for families, I think we’re actually doing a good job of showing the campus to prospective students and families this way.” Abby Murphy, the Communications Counselor here at UWRF Admissions is also enjoying all the offices being in one space, “I have worked more with some offices in this building in the last month than in the whole 2 years I have been working here.”

The first floor of the building is home to Cafe 74, Rodli’s very own coffee shop, named after the foundation of the University in 1874. They offer a variety of coffee, tea, and smoothies for purchase, along with bakery and lunch items. After picking up a coffee, students can walk through the building and find multiple services for all of their academic and wellness needs.

Offices that moved to Rodli include Admissions, Career Services, Financial Aid, International Programs, Student Ability Services, Academic Success Center, Diversity Inclusion and Belonging, Falcon Scholars and Honors Program, McNair Scholars, Student Health and Counseling, Student Support Services, Undergraduate Research Scholarly and Creative Activity (URSCA), Veteran Services, and the Writing Center.

Annaka Isenberger, the Coordinator for Falcon Scholars and the Honors Program says she is among others who love the new change, “I love the spaciousness of it, the windows and natural light, you don’t always get that in the office, so being in a space that you don’t even need the lights on is so good for mental health. People are happier and therefore happier when working.” She explained further that the excitement for the new building could be felt not only in Rodli but throughout the campus as students were starting the second semester and had something new to look forward to.

Another office that is enjoying the change in scenery is the office of International Education. Assistant Vice Chancellor for International Education, Heidi Soneson, explained her outlook on her office in Rodli, stating that it is “a wonderful concept where students can go to get all the support services they need.”

Rodli is part of the continuous changes and renovations coming to campus to help students have the best experience they can at UWRF. Chancellor Van Galen explained how his hope is that students will be motivated to use Rodli as a space to collaborate, work on group projects, and study. He also expects to see an increase in involvement, “I hope that even more students are involved in activities such as study abroad, URSCA, honors program, and Diversity Inclusion and Belonging. I want students to view Rodli as a resource and feel very welcome and able to be involved.”