Chancellor Van Galen



Welcome to my blog. I look forward to keeping you informed on topics that are meaningful to UW-River Falls and the Falcon community. It is my hope that my contributions spark conversations and ignite ideas throughout campus.

As always, I welcome your views and feedback and can be reached directly at

Chancellor's Blog

Chancellor's Blog: A Message About our COVID-19 Response

A message about our COVID-19 response

March 12, 2020

View the Chancellor's video message. 

Rodli Hall Now and Then

When the past and future come together

February 5, 2020

Sometimes the past and the future come together in remarkable ways. This was my thought on Monday as we celebrated the re-opening of the newly renovated David Rodli Hall. On the outside, this building doesn’t look too different from the time when it was known as Rodli Commons, first dedicated as a dining facility on Nov. 17, 1968. Prior to the opening of our University Center in 2007, for thousands of students it was the place for campus “fine dining,” a reference that usually brings a chuckle from alumni of that era. Read More

International Student Locations

Summit focuses on international education and engagement

November 17, 2019

This week, November 18-22, will be a very special one for our university and community as we host the Summit on International Education and Engagement. With over 30 events, most of which are free and open to the public, it will be a unique opportunity for global and intercultural learning. Our campus will also welcome some of our international partners, as leaders from Taiwan, Germany and the Netherlands join us for the summit. A full schedule of events can be found here
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Spring Commencement 2018

UW-River Falls:  8th in the nation

September 23, 2019

When you wake up to find an email from one of your prominent alumni referring you to an article about the university in a major national media source—well, it causes a bit of apprehension. I experienced that feeling earlier this month when I was sent a link to a Wall Street Journal article by not one but two alumni that serve on our Foundation Board.
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Thought Leadership Retreat - Global Education

Leaders thinking globally

July 12, 2019

It’s energizing to discuss exciting and important ideas with people who really care. I was reminded of this just prior to spring commencement when I invited a group of eight highly successful UW-River Falls alumni from around the country back to campus for a two-day Thought Leaders Retreat.
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SciTech supporters

State investment in SciTech Innovation Center critical to future

April 12, 2019

With the approach of another commencement, I am reminded of the transformational impact that public higher education has on individuals, on our state and on the world. While the most essential elements of a UW-River Falls education are human—outstanding faculty and staff and dedicated, hard-working students—modern facilities that support teaching and learning are also critical.  Read More

Bowls for Hope 2019 - Throwing Event

The intersection of art, giving, and community

February 19, 2019

Some experiences in life are both humbling and inspiring. Such was the case last week when UW-River Falls art Professor Michael Helke and students from our ceramics program helped about 15 community members “throw bowls” (which, if you didn’t know, refers to the act of shaping pottery from a ball of clay using a pottery wheel) in the Kleinpell Fine Arts ceramics studio.
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2018 Fall URSCA Gala

More than research

December 14, 2018

What could an accounting major from Rochester, Minn. gain from studying the health care system of Slovenia? Just ask University of Wisconsin-River Falls student Kristy Strain, who spent the fall interviewing individuals and organizations in Slovenia on the Semester Abroad: Europe program. Read More

Meletean McMillian Dedication

Falcons forever

October 29, 2018

The book had a dark blue cover, obviously old. The cover bore the embossed words, The Meletean, and the year 1920. I was at our recent Homecoming-related event for alumni in Stillwater and this edition of our institutional yearbook, I was told, was coming to me from Anne Adams Keller, Class of 1961. 

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Chancellor's Blog Letter

Impacting lives, one student at a time

September 6, 2018

This past summer, a hand-addressed envelope appeared my inbox. Like many of us, I receive plenty of email messages, so when you receive a personalized card it gets your attention. The return address was Tallahassee, Fla.
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Nick Karolides

Leaving an indelible mark 

July 11, 2018

On Saturday, Mary and I attended a Celebration of Life honoring Dr. Nick Karolides. Nick, a UW-River Falls professor emeritus of English, passed away June 7. I was honored to be asked by the family to say a few words as family, friends, colleagues, and former students gathered to celebrate his life.
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Stars Logo

Long-term thinking is golden

April 16, 2018

One of the best email messages I received last month informed me that the university earned aSTARS gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) in recognition of our sustainability achievements.

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Amy Auran

One small act at a time

February 26, 2018

Imagine a women’s basketball team being limited to playing “half court” basketball because of perceived “physical limitations”—based on their gender. Imagine those committed to coaching girls and women’s sports being denied access to facilities readily enjoyed by boys and men’s teams.

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late night breakfast

A late night tradition

December 21, 2017

UW-River Falls has some unique traditions, and one of the best is the Chancellor’s Late Night Breakfast. First hosted by Chancellor George Field in 1984, the tradition is for university administrators to serve a hot all-you-care-to-eat breakfast to students one evening during finals week. 

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Freddy Falcon in Falcon Center

The impact of healthy choices

November 27, 2017

In the Midwest, we like to say that we "enjoy the four seasons." Whether this is truly the case, or simply a strategy to convince ourselves to perserve through essentially five months of winter, the phrase seems to serve its purpose.

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Steve Wodarz- Heating Plant

Unsung heroes

October 16, 2017

Let's face it. It's easy to take people for granted. We all get busy. With this post, however, I would like to spend some time reflecting on those people who make the university work-- the unsung heroes, if you will.

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Academic Day Small

Here begins a new life

September 6, 2017

The late summer ritual happens every year. At over 3,000 colleges and universities across the United States, college freshmen and new transfer students arrive on campus, bringing with them a mixture of hope, excitement and anxiety.

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Culture Day

When core values matter most

August 24, 2017

In the coming days, we will welcome over 6,000 students to the UW-River Falls campus. It's a time of excitment, opportunity, and certainly some anxiety for the students. I have been thinking about the academic year ahead and the larger societal issues that dominate the news and many of our conversations these days.

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Professor Karges


Kargie's legacy

April 4, 2017

I was recently in Mesa, Ariz., for a UW-River Falls alumni event.  It’s a winter trek to the Southwest desert that UWRF chancellors have been making for the last 23 years.

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Students converse at URSCA day event


Moments of pride

March 6, 2017

A few years ago I was interviewed by a student reporter and was asked the question: "What is your favorite part of being a Chancellor?" For me, interacting with students and seeing the impact our faculty and staff have on student's lives is immensely enjoyable, and probably most rewarding.
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1870 petition


The power of universities and communities working together

January 4, 2017

In 1870, a group of citizens from Pierce and St. Croix counties petitioned the Wisconsin Legislature to locate the next state normal school in River Falls.  Voters from the towns of River Falls, Clifton, Troy and Kinnickinnic requested the authority to vote a tax of $20,000 to make this possible. Read More

International Thanksgiving


Global gratitude

November 22, 2016

Over the years, many people have told me that Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday. Perhaps it is the harvest-inspired food, the time spent with family and friends, or the absence of any expectation for exchanging of gifts. Read More



The enduring power of education and philanthropy

October 11, 2016

As chancellor, I attend and speak at many events.  Although a mentor of mine, a former university president, once quipped that the role of a university president is mostly to talk and eat – and there may be a grain of truth in that!  Read More

Kinnickinnic River 

Who shaped your journey?

September 7, 2016  

Let's try an experiment. Make a list of the ten people who have had the greatest impact on positively shaping your life's journey.
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Community Picnic

Brats, music, and is a college degree still worth it?

August 2, 2016

As a first-generation college student, I have seldom questioned the value of college. Education has not only transformed my life, but the lives of so many of my friends and family.
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