UW-River Falls and UW-River Falls Foundation Announce First-Ever Comprehensive Fundraising Campaign

April 30, 2012 - During a celebratory event held in the University Center on April 28, UW-River Falls and the UW-River Falls Foundation announced the launch of their first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign. Titled "Rising to Distinction," the campaign seeks to raise $20 million by June 30, 2016, for a variety of initiatives including student financial aid, faculty support, student learning opportunities, and facilities.

Bill Boehm, a 1970 graduate of UWRF and the university's 2006 distinguished alumnus, serves as campaign chair. During the event, Boehm, a past senior vice president and president of manufacturing for Kroger, Co., announced that the university had already secured gifts and commitments totaling more than $7 million in just the first year of the five-year campaign. Boehm described the $20 million campaign goal as both "ambitious and achievable."

Scholarship support for deserving students is the campaign's top priority. The university seeks to raise a total of $7.9 million for endowment and annual scholarships, including the Falcon Scholars program. Each academic year, 80 incoming freshman will be selected as Falcon Scholars and receive a renewable four-year $1,000 scholarship in addition to $2,000 that may be applied to a study abroad or undergraduate research experience during their junior or senior year.

The Rising to Distinction Campaign was announced as part of the UWRF Foundation's campaign preview event, which was also a benefit dinner for Falcon Scholars. Sponsors for the event were Greg and Donnette Wheelock's Crop Insurance Services of Mankato, Minn., Brad Hewitt of Minneapolis, and WESTconsin Credit Union. Chris Mueller, president of the UWRF Foundation, announced that the event raised $183,780 for Falcon Scholars.

  • As part of the campaign preview event, the university announced a number of lead gifts to support campaign initiatives:
  • An outright gift from Arlin and Marilyn Albrecht of Red Wing, Minn., to support Falcon Scholars through the Albrecht Challenge.
  • An outright gift from Greg and Donnette Wheelock to support the Greg and Donnette Wheelock Agricultural Scholarship, Falcon Scholars and the Falcon Center.
  • A gift of their River Falls residence from Charles and Anne Kao for use by visiting scholars and university special events.
  • A charitable gift annuity from Marvin Lansing of Knapp to support the Marvin & Margaret (Helmer) Lansing Scholarship.
  • An outright gift from John Butler of Iowa City, Iowa, to support the J. E. Butler Molecular Biology Scholarship.
  • An estate gift via a retirement plan from Barbara Hanley of Tucson, Ariz., for the Frances Carolan Hanley Memorial Scholarship.
  • A gift from the Ralph K Morris Foundation to establish the Rod Nilsestuen Visiting Scholar.
  • A grant from the CHS Inc. of Inver Grove Heights, Minn., to establish the Center for Agricultural Business Management and Engagement and for expanded student recruitment efforts in agronomy/crops and soils.
  • An outright gift from John Bryant Wyman, M.D., of Madison to establish the Walker D. and Helen Bryant Wyman Endowed Visiting Professorships in history and art. Dr. Bry Wyman was additionally recognized and honored by Chancellor Dean Van Galen as the first living million-dollar donor to the university.

As part of the festivities, the university also announced its re-commitment to the renovation of Ramer Field, the on-campus football stadium used by the university and River Falls High School. As part of the campaign, the university will seek to finish the fundraising efforts to renovate the stadium.  Prior major financial support for the football stadium had been received from First National Bank of River Falls, the David Smith family, and UWRF students.

During the campaign preview event, the Albrechts were honored with a resolution of appreciation passed by the UWRF Student Senate and Dr. Wyman was presented with a pottery piece created by Randy Johnston, chair of the UWRF Art Department.

The event featured musical performances by UWRF faculty, alumni and students, including the UW-River Falls Chamber Singers, and Dr. Wyman sharing landmark entries from Walker Wyman's 103-volume diary. Walker Wyman is Dr. Wyman's father and served as a professor of history at UWRF for 41 years, joining the faculty in 1932 and retiring in 1978 to emeritus status. Walker Wyman was president of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater from 1962 to 1967 before returning to River Falls. During his career, Walker Wyman was a prolific writer and was the author of works on subjects as varied as water witching, wolf and bear stories, mythical creatures, and histories of UW-River Falls and the Wisconsin State University System. Published shortly before his death was his 23rd book, "Great Legends and Stories of Mid-America."

"It has been a remarkable, historic evening for our university," said UWRF Chancellor Dean Van Galen. "Yet, we have much work to do to achieve success in the Rising to Distinction Campaign. Campaigns are exciting.  They raise our aspirations and motivate us to give of ourselves and of our resources to make a difference.  Let us remember that the true value of a successful campaign lies in how it will shape the lives of future students and the path of our university."

More information about the campaign can be found at

Capital Campaign Photo1kmh

Bill Boehm, campaign chair, announces that $7,201,510 has already been raised towards the $20 million goal for 2016, during the "Rising to Distinction" capital campaign kickoff for UW-River Falls and the UW-River Falls Foundation held April 28 in the University Center. The money raised is to go towards student financial aid, faculty support, student learning opportunities and facilities. Kathy M Helgeson/UWRF Communications photo.

Capital CampaignPhoto2kmh

Freshman Gabe Dwyer of Hudson shows off some tap dance moves during the program portion of the launch of "Rising to Distinction," a first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign by the UW-River Falls Foundation and UW-River Falls. The goal is to raise $20 million by June 30, 2016, with money raised for student financial aid, faculty support, student learning opportunities, and facilities. The program was held April 28 in the University Center. Kathy M Helgeson/UWRF Communications photo.  

Capital CampaignPhoto3kmh 

Dr. Bry Wyman, son of the late UWRF history professor Walker D. Wyman, remarks on his father April 28 during the "Rising to Distinction" comprehensive fundraising campaign preview held in the University Center. Dr. Wyman made a gift of $1 million to establish the Walker D. and Helen Bryant Wyman Endowed Visiting Professorships in history and art. Chancellor Dean Van Galen, right, recognized him as the first living million-dollar donor to the university. Kathy M Helgeson/UWRF Communications photo.

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