UW-River Falls hosts legislators, regents, advisers

December 6--Members of the Wisconsin State Assembly joined members of the UW System Board of Regents, local business and community leaders and members of the Chancellor’s Advisory Council (CAC) for a special informational meeting at UW-River Falls Dec. 4.

Representatives Adam Jarchow (R-District 28), Rob Stafsholt (R-District 29) and Shannon Zimmerman (R-District 30) met with undergraduate research students prior to a roundtable discussion on university progress and goals. Mark Aumann, representing Congressman Ron Kind (D-Wis.) also attended.

Regents Mark Tyler, Lisa Erickson and Ryan L. Ring were also present. Erickson is enrolled at UW-River Falls.

Students involved in the university’s Undergraduate Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity program presented findings on research ranging from aerodynamic rocket nose cones to computer image mapping of patient facial patterns to help treat Parkinson’s disease.

Following the presentation, the roundtable discussion informed legislators about the tightly-woven relationship between the university and its surrounding region and communities.

“One of the reasons I located in River Falls was because of the university,” said retired businessman and CAC member Quentin Schultz. “Of our 30 full-time employees, at least half were graduates or had UWRF experience.”

Many of those employees were the result of a successful hands-on internship program that benefits Schultz’s business, BioDiagnostics, and UWRF students.

Chancellor Dean Van Galen noted that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, St. Croix County is expected to grow in population by over 40 percent by 2040, and the university needs to be able to provide high-quality education to meet the demands for talent within the region and beyond.

One related initiative is the St. Croix Valley Business Innovation Center, scheduled to open in 2018. UWRF is a key partner in the center, owned by the River Falls Economic Development Corporation.

“The center wouldn’t have happened without that collaboration,” said Lynn Nelson, executive director of the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. “The university’s vision is to make the community a better place.”

Bill Rubin, executive director of the St. Croix Economic Development Corporation, agreed.

“I’m optimistic for the university,” Rubin said. “Where will the next idea come from? I’m excited and optimistic to see what the future holds for UW-River Falls.”

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