Foster to return as interim chancellor 

Connie Foster May 26, 2020 – Further to the announcement of the upcoming departure of UW-River Falls Chancellor Dean Van Galen, UW System acted quickly to identify an interim replacement. Earlier today, UW System President Ray Cross announced that Connie Foster has agreed to return to the helm of the institution where she had previously spent nearly 25 years and which she once led in the same role of interim chancellor. 

“I am humbled and honored to serve as interim chancellor at UWRF,” remarked Foster. “We are operating in a challenging and unpredictable environment. I look forward to talking with Chancellor Dean Van Galen and the many faculty and staff who are hard at work planning our path forward.”

During her previous tenure at UWRF, Foster initially served as a professor of health and human performance, gymnastics coach and women’s athletic director, eventually becoming overall athletic director and chair of the Health and Human Performance Department. She also held the roles of dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies and interim provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. She served as interim chancellor for 10 months, following the departure of Chancellor Don Betz in 2008, prior to Van Galen’s start.

Van Galen expressed his confidence in Foster’s ability to lead the university during this time of transition. 

“I am very supportive of the selection of Connie Foster as UW-River Falls’ interim chancellor. She has had a distinguished career of leadership and service on the campus and is widely respected,” Van Galen said. “Foster’s past experience as interim chancellor and her excellent perspective on higher education make her the perfect person to provide wise and thoughtful leadership during this challenging time.”

After leaving UW-River Falls in 2009, Foster founded a facilitation and consulting business where her work has primarily focused on strategic and academic planning at institutions of higher education. Her consulting work has provided Foster an opportunity to remain involved with UW-River Falls. She worked during the 2019-20 academic year to facilitate external stakeholder engagement as part of the campus’s new strategic plan process. 

Foster’s in-depth knowledge on the challenges facing academic institutions as well as expertise in consensus-based planning have been instrumental in helping to move UWRF towards its planning goals. 

“I am pleased that Connie Foster has been selected as interim chancellor. Her multiple leadership roles on this campus combined with her work with the Society for College and University Planning make her an excellent choice for this position,” commented Dean Mike Harris, UWRF College of Education and Professional Studies. “Foster exemplifies Kouzes and Posner's practices of effective leadership, she models the way, inspires shared vision, challenges the process, enables others to act and shows appreciation for others' contributions. I am confident the university will be in good hands with Foster as our leader.”

Originally from California, Foster earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from California State University-Long Beach and her master’s degree in sport psychology at the University of Southern California. Foster obtained her Ph.D. in sport psychology at the University of Minnesota.

In 2013, Foster received the UWRF Outstanding Service Award for co-chairing the Falcon Center Volunteer Fundraising Committee and was inducted into the UWRF Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016.

Foster lives in River Falls and will begin serving as interim chancellor July 1.

Note: For more information about Chancellor Dean Van Galen's departure, visit


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