Initiative Impacts

Goal 1: Distinctive Academic Excellence

UW-River Falls will strategically enhance and build distinctive academic programs that support a community of diverse, talented, and highly-engaged learners and scholars. The university's highest aspiration will be to foster an inclusive, challenging, learner-centered environment that supports academic excellence. The university aspires to further differentiate itself in the state and region through its academic programs, and be among the national leaders in undergraduate and collaborative research, scholarship, and creative activity.

Undergraduate Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity (URSCA)
This initiative aims to increase URSCA support to students and faculty through improved coordination and promotion across campus, throughout the year. In 2014-15 alone, over 1,500 students participated in these high-impact experiences, working closely with faculty mentors outside the classroom and gaining valuable critical thinking, problem solving and presentation skills. Thanks to URSCA, we have also more than doubled the number of students participating at regional or national scholarly meetings.

Falcon Scholars
This distinctive program has been providing up to 80 incoming students a year the opportunity to focus on their studies, as well as benefit from study abroad or URSCA participation, thanks to financial support from private donors and Falcon Promise funding.

Honors Program
This reinvigorated program is improving retention and raising our academic profile by providing a community for students who have outstanding records of academic achievement. Four hundred and forty students are currently enrolled, benefitting from support such as customized classes, priority registration, and one-on-one Honors advising. Current Honors students are retained in the Honors Program at an impressive rate of 95%.

Building Enrollment through Distinctive Academic Programs
New degrees launched since 2012:
- BS in Agricultural Engineering
- BS in Criminology
- BS in Data Science and Predictive Analytics
- BS in Neuroscience
- BS in Animal Science/Pre-Vet Program – Companion Animal Track
- MS in Health and Wellness Management
- MS in Computer Science
- MSE in Elementary Education – Montessori Option

Master of Business Administration (MBA) Full-time Track
This AACSB-accredited program has been significant in attracting more international students. Twenty percent of our current MBA students are international students from countries such as India, Taiwan, China, and Kenya.

This program is providing STEM degree holders, be they recent graduates, career changers, or retirees, a focused and efficient route to an initial secondary teaching certification.

Evaluating the Need for an Autism Transition Program at UWRF
UWRF can be a pioneer in creating a transition program for students on the autism spectrum that will help them attend and complete college. This initiative asks that a committee be convened to explore the feasibility of creating a program at UWRF.

Goal 2: Global Education and Engagement


Global learning and comprehensive internationalization will serve as a distinctive feature of UW-River Falls. The university aspires to distinguish itself as being a national leader in internationalization among public comprehensive, master's level institutions.

University-Wide "Year of" Program
This initiative has contributed to student cultural competence and awareness amongst faculty, staff and students as one nation a year is highlighted for campus events, workshops, seminars and visiting lecturers, as well as infused in course content.
- 2013-14 Germany
- 2014-15 China
- 2015-16 Mexico
- 2016-17 Brazil
- 2017-18 South Korea
- 2018-19 Canada
- 2019-20 Somalia

Experience China & Experience Puebla
To encourage more UW-River Falls undergraduates to participate in a semester long international experience, two new programs, Experience China at the Zhejiang International Studies University in Hangzhou, China, and Experience Puebla at the Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP) in Mexico, have been created based on the residential model of UWRF's longstanding Experience Scotland (Wisconsin In Scotland) program. The program's focus is on making study abroad safe, affordable and accessible, even to students who have never traveled before. To date, 40+ students and several UWRF faculty have participated in these new programs.

Zhejiang International Studies University (ZISU) 1+1+2
A new, dynamic initiative with our long standing partners at the Zhejiang International Studies University (ZISU) in Hangzhou, China, the 1+1+2 program has participating elementary education students from ZISU spending their second year as undergraduates at UWRF. They take courses in Teacher Education, English as a Second Language, and other content areas. They also spend one day a week in a River Falls elementary school classroom working with local students and teachers. Between 2012 and 2015, we have welcomed 50 elementary education students from ZISU through this program.

Bilingual Education Certification Curriculum
In an effort to meet the teacher demand in Wisconsin and increase the skill set of UWRF graduates, the proposal would add two courses to the curriculum so that studetns majoring and minoring in TESOL Education could add the Bilingual Education Certification to their ESL teaching license. 

UWRF Summit on International Education and Development
This weeklong series of events would be aimed at celebrating UWRF's successes of Global Education and Engagement, while also serving as a launching pad for actions that confirm our ongoing commitment to the values expressed by this goal. The summit would help cement the position of UWRF as a leader in education abroad and demonstrate the "pay off" of the past 5 years' efforts to provide more international opportunities for students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members. The event would bring positive awareness and attention to UWRF, supporting recruitment while also strengthening our relationships with key external stakeholders. 

Goal 3: Innovation and Partnerships

UW-River Falls will incentivize and support innovation, often in collaboration with others, to support student learning, enhance the distinctiveness and stature of the university, and catalyze economic and sustainable community development. Our partnerships will reinforce the value of the university to the state and region.

New spaces, programs and partnerships that inspire innovative collaboration:

Active Learning Classrooms
Thanks to the strategic plan framework, the renovation of classroom space is increasingly focused on the optimization of classroom layout and technology to foster use of current, bestpractice, engaged learning techniques.

Accelerating Innovation
This new initiative seeks to build a culture of innovation at UW-River Falls by creating spaces in which students can explore, design and execute
their ideas, as well as a Certificate in Innovation to demonstrate their mastery of those skills.

Rising to Distinction Campaign
Rising to Distinction was the university's first comprehensive fundraising campaign, developed to help UW-River Falls pursue the goals of this strategic plan. Private support provided increased funding for student scholarships, enhanced learning opportunities, and helped fund new facilities. With a goal of reaching $20 million by June 30, 2016, the campaign fundraising effort well exceeded expectations, reaching the milestone six months early and helping fund strategic initiatives such as Falcon Scholars, URSCA and the new Falcon Center

University Innovation Fellows
This program empowers students to become agents of change at their schools. Participants acquire knowledge of tools, frameworks, and program models to help college students develop an entrepreneurial mindset and creative confidence. The program is run by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell. Funds from WiSys or professional development grants may be forthcomign to pay for travel expenses for participants.