Editorial: Gone too soon
Three years can be such a short time. That's especially true when evaluating the brief tenure of UW-River Falls Chancellor Don Betz, who will leave his post at the school year's end for another college position in his home state of Oklahoma.
Brief though his stay here was, Betz made good, strong impressions on behalf of not only UW-RF, but also River Falls and the greater region.
Betz was unpretentious and flexible, whether addressing members of the UW System's Board of Regents or a collection of local civic and business leaders.
He had boundless energy, popping up at early morning economic development roundtables or sitting in at River Falls Rotary gatherings; schmoozing with NFL and Kansas City Chiefs representatives during summer training camp; leading departmental meetings; being on hand for local business groundbreakings, such as for Rush River Brewery; and maybe finishing at night by appearing at a local Chamber of Commerce awards banquet.
In between he might zip off to Madison to lobby for this bill or that, then return to River Falls to deal with campus matters. Whatever he did, he managed to strike a balance and make remarkable strides, such as promoting, on campus and for the entire area, economic and environmental sustainability. This led to the formation last year of the St. Croix Institute for Sustainable Community Development. Betz also made regional alliances with neighboring UW-Stout and UW-Eau Claire, and, here in town, with the River Falls Chippewa Valley Technical College.
Betz stepped into a delicate situation as successor to the late Ann Lydecker, another UW-RF chancellor whose promising future was cut short -- hers by a traffic crash. Because Lydecker was popular and respected, Betz needed to tread carefully and respect Lydecker's memory while still moving forward to establish a vision of his own.
We think Betz succeeded. River Falls Mayor Don Richards said Betz was a visionary because of his ability to "inspire." Even during his three short years here, Betz was no caretaker. He was a doer. Let's hope the same quality can be found in the next UW-RF chancellor.
On Line Poll: Rise and shine: The time factor
This week's Journal online poll question has to do with facing a new day.
Our question: How long does it take you to "get ready" in the morning?
The responses: From waking to leaving, I need:
To cast your vote and for the latest news, go to www.riverfallsjournal.com.