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New chancellor spends first months connecting with campus

September 5, 2021

UW-River Falls has named Maria Gallo as the 20th chancellor.

Formerly the president of Delaware Valley University, Gallo is a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and the Crop and Soil Society of America. She was also a plant molecular biologist, and specialized in crop improvement as a professor and chair of the agronomy department at the University of Florida.

Gallo was born in Westchester County, New York. She attended Cornell University for her undergraduate degree in agronomy and then went on to graduate school for crop science and genetics at North Carolina State University.

Maria Gallo

Gallo’s first assistant professor position was about 30 years ago, in St. Paul, Minnesota. She said when an opportunity opened at UWRF, she was drawn back to the area for its natural beauty and proximity to the Twin Cities. She moved to River Falls this June, and officially started her position as chancellor on July 15.

“I just saw it as an ideal place and a perfect fit. I’m very very honored and privileged to be your chancellor,” said Gallo.

Since starting at UWRF, Gallo has been on a listening and learning tour, meeting with departments across campus to get a better understanding of the university. The tour is expected to go through at least the first half of fall semester. She said after the tour, she will put together what she’s learned and give people a chance to react.

“Then we’ll adjust and kind of blend that into the strategic plan as appropriate,” said Gallo. “I want to hear the challenges we have and the opportunities that we have that we’re taking advantage of, or that maybe we’re not yet.”

Gallo said she will use what she learns to work towards building onto the strategic plan, an effort that was launched in 2012 by former Chancellor Dean Van Galen. The plan is to serve as a roadmap when the university faces challenging decisions.

In her free time, Gallo is a fan of hiking, biking, and being in nature. The chancellor said she likes to garden and has many plants. Gallo also has a three year old golden retriever named Ruby, and two cats. Gallo said Ruby loves people.

“If I’m walking her and she sees somebody, she will sit or lay down and wait for them to come pet her. Not everybody wants to do that and she gets a little insulted,” said Gallo.

Gallo said she believes being chancellor means she is here to facilitate the vision of the university. The chancellor said she encourages students to connect with her this year. She said for her, it’s all about student success, which was defined as finding a well suited job or continuing on with one's education.

Finding common ground is something Gallo tries to do. She said: “My style is to look at where the opportunities are and to go towards those, but in a facilitative way. We need to bring people together and move forward together.”