We had a wonderful meeting wishing Dr. Dean Van Galen a fond farewell and expressing thanks for his 11 years of service to UWRF and his active participation in the RF Rotary Club.  Dean will be leaving us to head up the Missouri Southern State University as its sixth president.
Dean thanked everyone for their friendship and told the story about how his first meeting was on a cold, dark, wintery day. He was impressed by the energy, smiles and positive vibes from the group, and how he felt welcomed right from the start.
"That has been a bright light and we have made many memories at various events and experiences," he said. "We will miss River Falls and all the friendships we have made here. Thank you."
Dean was recognized with a second Paul Harris Fellow tribute recognition. Rotarians name a Paul Harris Fellow tribute to a person who shares the educational and humanitarian objectives of Rotary. The award recognizes service above self in the local community. Congratulations, Dean. You will be missed!
Joplin, Missouri has two Rotary clubs, so we hope that Dean continues his Rotarian adventures there. Stay in touch!

Update on UW-RF

Dean provided an update on the University's situation during COVID-19, saying that we are still discovering all the ways that the pandemic will impact higher education, not just at River Falls, but globally.

Some of the highlights include:
  • In Mid-March, classes were suspended, employees moved to telecommuting and buildings were closed.
  • Spring semester was moved online, which was difficult for students and faculty alike, mainly because of the abruptness of the transition.
  • This summer, all courses are online or via alternate modes of delivery. No summer camps will be held, but the child care center is open. Administration is developing a return-to-campus plan, with safety processes.
"There has been tremendous change in how we do things," Dean said. "We are trying to balance quality education with the health and safety of people, in an unknown, unique situation."
For the coming semester and school year:
  • Registration will be completely online.
  • Prospective students can visit the campus in tours no greater than 10 people.
  • The plan is to provide a significant amount of in-person instruction. The vast majority of faculty and staff, as well as students, will be on campus.
  • The University will provide a higher percentage of online courses, giving students and faculty choices and options. Many courses will be hybrid, with both in person and online components.
  • Class sizes will be smaller.
  • Residence halls will be open with many protocols regarding cleaning, PPE, student testing and contact testing and providing opportunities for isolation and quarantine.Partnership with Pierce County Health department has been and will continue to be paramount to everyone's safety.

Financial impact

The university joins small businesses and the local economy in experiencing financial loss. With budget cuts and losses from last year's refunded tuition and room and board fees, many employees will be furloughed for varying lengths of time, and that will continue for the next year.
Enrollment is expected to be down, though the true impact is unknown. Retention is also an unknown quantity as well. How many students will return? 
"The key is to still provide a high quality education," said Dean. "Many of our students value their relationships with faculty and staff. They wanted to come here because of the relationships and opportunities they experience. We will do our best to provide that in the fall in a safe way.
"It's such a unique and challenging time for higher education," he continued. "We need to be prepared for cases on campus and to protect those at highest risk as we try to balance safety and health with the need to function. There is no perfect way to do this, but we are doing the best we can."