Big day, all smiles
At the end of a long procession of dignitaries, UW-River Falls Chancellor Dean Van Galen walked into the Riverview Ballroom at University Center Friday afternoon to be officially installed in the job he took last summer.
Hundreds looked on or were on stage with Van Galen, including former chancellors Don Betz and Virgil Nylander, state Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, state Rep. Kitty Rhoades, River Falls Mayor Don Richards, local Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Roseanne Bump, Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Rod Nilsestuen, UW-System President Kevin Reilly and, the emcee, Kare-11 TV reporter Boyd Huppert.
Van Galen was presented with various symbolic gifts, including a bronze Falcon, a cow/bull figurine, a key and a sugar maple tree.
David Rainville, representing the UW-RF Faculty Senate said Van Galen, a Wisconsin native and UW-Whitewater graduate, "had returned to his roots where his heart truly lies." Van Galen later said this was the only university he would want to lead.
Van Galen also introduced his 91-year-old father, Delmer, a factory worker who lacked even a high school degree but encouraged his son to get a good education.
Van Galen, a first-generation college student himself, pointed out that the same was true for many UW-RF students, and that many also come from households of "modest means." Therefore, he called UW-RF a "place of opportunity" that offered the promise of a better future for those students.
Reilly, who oversees the 26 UW System campuses with its 178,000 students (a historic high), told a Groucho Marx joke, but said that UW-RF is the key player, "the core institution," in the St. Croix Valley, one of the nation's fastest growing regions.
Van Galen echoed the importance and relevance of UW-RF's role in the "dynamic" St. Croix Valley.