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UWRF chancellor named next president of Missouri Southern State

June 4, 2020

Chancellor Dean Van Galen
Chancellor Dean Van Galen gives his remarks at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Falcon Center Sept. 21, 2017. (Photo courtesy of University Communications and Marketing)

The chancellor of UW-River Falls accepted a position as the sixth president of Missouri Southern State University.

Dean Van Galen has been the chancellor of UWRF for over a decade. Before this university, he worked as a chemistry assistant professor at Truman State University in Missouri. Van Galen later moved into a senior leadership role at Truman State, and then the University of West Florida.

One of Van Galen’s proudest accomplishments during his time at UWRF has been the strong partnership developed between the university and the surrounding community.

“I am proud of the strengthening of student opportunities for undergraduate research and study abroad, completion of the university’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign, funding and opening of the Falcon Center and Rodli Hall.” Van Galen continued, “Many people have been involved in these successes, and I believe that these will have a long-term impact on the university and its students.”

Van Galen said he will miss the many special events on campus, such as the international student’s Thanksgiving, and the many students and people he has gotten to know over the years. However, he said he will not miss making the call on whether or not to cancel class due to weather conditions.

UW System President Ray Cross has appointed Connie Foster as interim chancellor. Foster was interim chancellor at UWRF back in 2008. Since retiring from higher education, Foster has been both a volunteer and a consultant to the university, according to Beth Schommer, the executive assistant to the chancellor.

The UW System will assemble a special regent committee and a search committee to find the permanent chancellor. The time-frame of this search process typically takes about six to nine months, according to Schommer. The maximum amount of time the search can take is three years.

“This upcoming transition is, of course occurring at a very challenging time in our history, so the new chancellor will need to ensure they are prioritizing engagement of the university’s many internal and external stakeholder groups as we navigate the difficult choices ahead, related to the pandemic and new budget constraints,” said Schommer.

Van Galen said that a change in leadership creates some disruption, but the university is larger than any one person.

“There are excellent leaders throughout the campus, and I’m confident that UWRF’s next chancellor will bring energy and ideas to further advance the university,” said Van Galen.

Foster will take on this new role beginning July 1.