UW-River Falls pre-inauguration Day of Engagement on Oct. 19 to focus on sustainability


Oct. 12, 2022-- Chancellor Maria Gallo’s inauguration committee has organized a Day of Engagement on Wednesday, Oct. 19, prior to Gallo’s inauguration ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 20. Engagement events are free and open to the public. For complete event information, campus maps, and parking options, visit Boettcher

The Day of Engagement offers multiple opportunities for participants to experience the campus community’s creativity and innovation, while also focusing on the UWRF core value of sustainability. Gallo has made sustainability a leadership priority, with the goal of incorporating sustainable practices into every aspect of the institution.

One of Gallo’s earliest sustainability initiatives was to create a full-time sustainability coordinator position on campus. Mark Klapatch-Mathias, a 13-year UWRF employee who had been guiding a growing sustainability effort on top of other managerial duties, assumed that role in January. 

“The chancellor was clear that she wanted sustainability to be a prominent part of her legacy from the get-go,” said Klapatch-Mathias. “Even in her first campus interview, she talked about sustainability being a priority. And that hasn’t changed.”

The Day of Engagement will begin at 9 a.m. in the Riverview Ballroom in the University Center with a presentation on innovative rural broadband solutions by Nate Boettcher, president and CEO of Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services and SwiftCurrent Connect, and board chair of CHARGE EV, a network of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging sites.

Bee HotelBoettcher’s talk is hosted by UWRF’s College of Business and Economics and is part of that college’s Innovator in Residence speaker’s series.

“Nate was selected as the fall 2022 Innovator in Residence based on his commitment to making the local region more sustainable in numerous inspiring ways,” said Dawn Hukai, the college’s acting dean.

Hukai said the focus of the presentation will be the Pierce-Pepin Cooperative Services SwiftCurrent Connect broadband initiative that is bringing high-speed fiber-optic internet to relatively rural areas, making it possible for people to work from home with reliable connectivity and vastly reducing the need for commuting. 

Following a noontime edition of the Frances Cohler Coffee Concert Series and faculty art show in the Kleinpell Fine Arts building, Klapatch-Mathias will present the newly approved Sustainable Campus Community Plan. Annie Murphy Paul

Prior to the presentation, student employees in the Sustainability Office, along with other faculty and staff, will facilitate an interactive session to collect ideas from participants around the plan’s priorities and encourage them to get involved in areas that interest them the most. 

Following the presentation, participants are invited to join walking tours at 2:50 p.m. that showcase UWRF Grounds Department’s extensive sustainability efforts. The tour will end near the Wall Amphitheatre at the new Bee Hotel for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3:15 p.m.

The Bee Hotel is sponsored by the UWRF Bee Club, a student organization formed to raise awareness of pollinator habitat conservation and benefits. UWRF has been designated a Bee Campus USA, one of only a few in the state.

The sustainability focus continues with a tree dedication at 3:45 p.m. near Rodli Hall in honor of Gallo’s inauguration. The Bur Oak was a gift from the City of River Falls “chosen because it represents strength, resilience, and longevity,” said Mike Noreen, the city’s forester and conservation and efficiency coordinator, “and because the tree’s silhouette will bring beauty to the campus year-round.”

Cathy Wurzer headshotThe day will end with a conversation at 7 p.m. in the Falcon’s Nest between acclaimed author Annie Murphy Paul and Cathy Wurzer, media personality and UWRF alum. 

Murphy Paul is the author of “The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain.” Published in June 2021, the book was selected as Amazon Editors' Pick for Best Nonfiction; one of 50 Notable Works of Nonfiction by the Washington Post; and one of 100 Notable Books by the New York Times. 




Day of Engagement events
Wednesday, Oct. 19

9-10 a.m.: Innovator in Residence Presentation: “Innovative Rural Broadband Solutions” 
Riverview Ballroom, University Center
Presenter: Nate Boettcher, president and CEO of Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services and SwiftCurrent Connect
Host: College of Business and Economics

Noon-1 p.m.: Inauguration Showcase Coffee Concert Celebration
Abbott Concert Hall, Kleinpell Fine Arts building
The concert will feature the UWRF Symphony Band and include faculty soloists and alums Gary Bird, ’68, and Richard Gaynor, ’84.

1-1:30 p.m.*: Art Department Faculty Exhibition Meet and Greet
Gallery 101, Kleinpell Fine Arts building
Faculty members who have artwork on display will be present to visit with guests from 1-1:30 p.m. The artwork represents faculty members' diverse areas of studio practices and artistic interests. 
*The gallery will be open to visitors from 11 a.m. to noon and 1-2 p.m. on Oct. 19.

1:30-2:50 p.m.: Our Sustainable Campus Community: Vision and Values
Riverview Ballroom, University Center
•    1:30-2 p.m.: Participants are invited to share their sustainability ideas and priorities during this fun, informal interactive activity.
•    2-2:50 p.m.: UWRF sustainability staff will share an overview of their recent efforts including the new Sustainable Campus Community Plan and a sustainability model. Q&A will follow.

2:50-3:30 p.m.: Campus Sustainability Highlights Tour
The tour will begin outside the Riverview Ballroom, University Center
This guided tour will highlight the sustainability efforts of the UWRF Grounds Department. The tour will end at the site of the Bee Hotel near the Melvin Wall Amphitheatre, where there will be a short dedication at 3:15 p.m. The tour is wheelchair accessible.

3:45 p.m.: Gallo Tree Dedication
West side of Rodli Hall near the Falcon sculpture
The City of River Falls has generously donated a Bur Oak tree in honor of Chancellor Gallo’s inauguration.

7 p.m.: Interview with Annie Murphy Paul
Falcon's Nest, University Center
Cathy Wurzer, UWRF alum and media personality, will emcee this event.

Editor’s note: See full Day of Engagement schedule above. To request an interview or inquire about photo opportunities, please email

Photos: (Top right, Boettcher; middle left, Bee Hotel; middle right, Murphy Paul; bottom right, Wurzer)

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