Chancellor's Blog

Chancellor's Blog Letter


Impacting lives, one student at a time

Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018 | Dean Van Galen


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.

I opened the envelope to find a note card with a long hand-written message. It was from Cory Windorff who, as I discovered, graduated from UW-River Falls in 2012. Cory’s message was an amazing and heartfelt letter of thanks addressed to me, but really to UW-River Falls, for the experiences and opportunities he had here as a student. With Cory’s permission, I would like to share a few of his words with you:

"I cannot express my gratitude enough to UWRF for taking a chance on a student who barely graduated high school. The small class size and close contact with professors, along with the help room and tutoring resources available across the campus allowed me to be successful in my academic studies. The ability to study abroad opened the world to me for study and travel. The McNair program prepared me for graduate school. To see the university in the hands of loving people that wish to advance it and be part of the community warms my heart…"

Cory came to UW-River Falls in the fall of 2007 as a first-generation college student from Brookfield.  After graduating in 2012, he went on to complete a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California-Irvine. Today, Dr. Cory Windorff is working as a post-doctoral researcher at Florida State University, studying the chemistry of Berkelium and Californium, two of the more recently produced elements found in that fascinating lower part of the periodic table. (It really is fascinating work – and not just to us chemists!)

Cory’s story was a reminder to me of how higher education, and the supportive student-centered environment we provide at UWRF, literally changes the trajectory of people’s lives. Cory’s experience may be unique in some ways, but in reality, these types of stories are repeated again and again on our campus, whether or not the gratitude is expressed as graciously as Cory chose to do with his note.

This week, as we begin the fall semester, I am grateful for the inspiring work of our faculty and staff, and I am more convinced than ever that a UW education continues to be an important and worthy investment by the State of Wisconsin, as well as by students and their families.