Page 1


Fall 2020

Changing Times Together…

Falcons Move Forward



in this issue

Rodli PROFile The many directions of MIchelle Farner.... 8

Collaboration in the time of COVID-19 Finding strength in numbers....................... 10

Jim Thies Receives WIAC Tom Butler Award............ 18

Vic Langer Family matters. .......................................... 22

Sections Up Front...............................................4 Along the South Fork.......................4 Falcon Sports.....................................18 Alma Matters.....................................24



(not so)

Commons A new focus on students. In February the newly renovated Rodli Hall opened for business‌ student support business. Rodli houses many resources to help students make the most of their college experience. With more than 14 departments including Admissions, Residence Life, Career Services, Student Health and Counseling, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging, and the Student Support Services. Rodli is a one-stop shop for all kinds of student support. Did we mention that there’s also a coffee shop?



up front With Chancellor Connie Foster

along the south fork A summary of noteworthy events, milestones, programs

A Fond Farewell

Greetings Alumni, Donors and Friends, I am honored to be serving as interim chancellor of UW-River Falls. While not new to campus, having spent 25 years as a faculty member and administrator and previously serving one year as interim chancellor in 2008-09, I am excited to return and have the opportunity to engage with our students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members. My first two months have been a whirlwind. UW-River Falls is facing many changes and uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as resulting financial pressures. However, our amazing institution has stepped up to these challenges in remarkable ways - all to prioritize the health and safety of our campus community and ensure we can continue to fulfill UWRF’s educational mission at the standards of quality for which we are known. As you will see in this edition of Falcon Features, much has changed about how our students interact with each other and how we are celebrating them this year, such as our virtual spring commencement which was a wonderful success! Our engagement with you will also look different, and events like homecoming won’t feel quite the same. Nonetheless, we ask that you stay connected with UW-River Falls through the new virtual formats we are offering. I am grateful to be leading the dedicated team at UW-River Falls in the pursuit of our mission and I appreciate your ongoing connection. In spite of the challenges that still lie ahead, I am optimistic about our future, knowing that we are in this and will get through this – together.

Connie Foster, Chancellor



Chancellor Dean and Mary Van Galen looking through a memory book.

The UW-River Falls community said good-bye to Dean Van Galen in June after 11 years as UWRF’s chancellor. In July, Van Galen stepped into the president role at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Mo. Van Galen was known for a student-centered approach to leadership and support of engagement in high-impact practices. He emphasized the importance of experiences outside of the classroom and strongly advocated for undergraduate research and global education and engagement. Organizing a send-off for Dean and Mary Van Galen posed a few challenges due to COVID-19 related restrictions, however, that didn’t stop colleagues and students from showing how much the Van Galens would be missed. A North Hall parking lot served as the venue for a walk-and-talk good-bye, with everyone safely distanced as they shared well wishes and memories.


Volume 68, Fall 2020 University of Wisconsin-River Falls 410 S. 3rd St. River Falls, WI 54022 715-425-3505 or 1-877-258-6647 Falcon Features is published annually by the UWRF offices of University Advancement and University Communications and Marketing and the Alumni Association. Generating content is a team effort on behalf of these departments. Postmaster: Send form 3579 to Falcon Features, University of Wisconsin-River Falls, River Falls, WI 54022

EDITORIAL TEAM Assistant Chancellor, University Advancement Rick Foy Executive Editor Dina Fassino Art Director Tony Bredahl, ’86 Copy Editor Deb Toftness Feature Writer Kelsea Wissing Photography Pat Deninger Graphic Design/Illustration Kathryn Falde Karen Zander

and happenings.

Students to Benefit from Generous Estate Gift

Big Idea Contest Winners Take on World Water Crisis The UW-River Falls team of Lamah Bility and Anaa Jibicho took first place in the Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament, a business model contest hosted by WiSys in June. The tournament brings teams of university students from across the state to pitch innovative business ideas.

Trustees of the Michael and Jessina Dineen Memorial Scholarship endowment recently presented an estate gift to UWRF. L to R: Mark Gherty, chair, UWRiver Falls Foundation Board of Directors; Janet Burns, president, UW-River Falls Foundation; Don Dukerschein, trustee, Michael and Jessina Dineen estate; Mike Balko, trustee, Michael and Jessina Dineen estate; and Dean Van Galen, chancellor, UW-River Falls.

A Chippewa Falls couple’s passion for the outdoors and education has resulted in an estate gift of $719,325 to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Foundation. The Michael and Jessina Dineen Memorial Scholarship endowment will provide approximately $25,000 in scholarships each year for UW-River Falls students in the plant and earth science program who are pursuing degrees in conservation and environmental planning, crop and soil science, environmental science, geology or horticulture. Michael worked in construction and was an active leader in various conservation organizations including the Chippewa Valley Outdoor Resource Alliance, Pheasants Forever and hunter education programs. He died in a motorcycle accident in 2001. Jessina “Jess” was the long-time band director at Chippewa Falls Middle School. She was also a hunter education instructor and served with the Chippewa Valley Outdoor Resource Alliance. She was inspired to create a scholarship program from their estate following her death in 2015. 

Through their business called Didómi, Bility and Jibicho aim to combat the water crisis in developing countries by selling fashionable, reusable water bottles. The team received a $2,500 cash prize, courtesy of the Idea Fund of La Crosse. “More people die from unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war,” says Bility. “Water is at the root of many of the challenges facing people in developing countries. When water insecurities are met, communities transform, equality progresses, and productivity is out of the roof.” Didómi is donating 50% of the profit from the sales of its water bottles toward funding its mission of combating the global water crisis. Every bottle purchased can provide 10-years of clean, safe water access. Didomi partners with the international NGO Water is Life to carry out its mission. Jibicho, an immigrant from Ethiopia and Bility, an immigrant from Liberia are recent UWRF graduates who were personally impacted by unsafe water in their homeland.

“Jess and Mike would be thrilled to know their love of the outdoors and commitment to education will live on in the lives of UW-River Falls students impacted by the Dineens’ generosity,” said Don Dukerschein, a co-trustee of the Dineen estate. “It’s a fitting legacy to a wonderful couple.”

Anna recalls memories in Ethiopia where, in the midst of political persecution, getting access to clean, safe waters was nearly impossible. Many people relied on unsafe water for their daily needs. Two of Anaa’s older siblings passed away due to water-borne diseases in Ethiopia.

UW-River Falls Chancellor Dean Van Galen announced the gift during the university’s Spring Semester Opening Meeting, a gathering of more than 400 faculty and staff.

Lamah shares memories of growing up in Liberia.

“We thank the trustees who have been such outstanding stewards of Mike and Jess’s resources and wishes,” Van Galen said. “For generations, our students will benefit greatly from this remarkable and impactful gift.” For more information, contact Kimberly Gould-Speckman, director of Advancement Services, at 715-425-4212 or

“As the oldest, I would wake up every morning before sunrise and walk two miles to a lake to get water so that my two sibling and parents had clean water for the day,” Lamah said. WiSys is a nonprofit organization that works with faculty, staff, students, and alumni of the UW System to facilitate cutting-edge research programs, develop and commercialize discoveries and foster a spirit of innovative and entrepreneurial thinking across the state. FALCON FEATURES FALL 2020



PROFile Michelle Farner Dairy Pilot Plant Manager by Kelsea Wissing



Michelle Farner’s job title doesn’t come close to covering all the pieces of her role at UW-River Falls. Officially the dairy pilot plant manager at UWRF, Farner’s position expands well beyond the task that the four words in her title cover. She’s celebrating her ninth anniversary at the university this fall and in those nine years, she’s managed to bring her talents to a variety of areas on campus. “I wear a lot of different hats. I manage the university’s Dairy Pilot Plant. I run the Falcon Foods store,” she explains. “The [Dairy Pilot Plant] renovation project has kind of become a beast of its own with fundraising. I have done a lot of fundraising for that and managing the project, getting the equipment installed.” The management portion of her day to day may constitute a full-time role for some, but that’s not the case for Farner, a seasoned cheesemaker whose expertise in the field is vital to her job. “My position has really evolved into a lot of teaching. I usually teach one to two semester-long courses each semester and then we currently have five short-course workshops for industry that I teach and coordinate,” she says. “I also help students with internships. I’m not an internship coordinator but I help connect them with roles.” While Farner makes it clear that she enjoys the variety of hats she gets to wear at UWRF and the collaborative nature of all her responsibilities, the student-centered ones are a highlight. “I enjoy working with the students and trying to recruit them to go into the dairy industry, that’s what I enjoy the most,” she says. “A lot of students really have no idea what they want to do so to get them involved in making a product and seeing that there’s more to food science than quality assurance is really something that’s fun for me.” In addition to the long list above, Farner also leads students on study abroad trips each year and coaches UWRF’s Dairy Products Evaluation Team. Since 2017, the evaluation team has been the only U.S. collegiate team invited to the Europel Sensory Contest for Dairy Products and Farner and her squad have traveled to Poland, France and the Netherlands. The international

arm of her work is just another highlight for Farner. “Again, it really shows that my title doesn’t explain what I do!” she says with a laugh. “I really enjoy doing study abroad and taking students out of Wisconsin because a lot of them haven’t been out of the state or the country. Being able to participate in their experiences is just fun. It’s life changing for them and to be a part of that is very rewarding.” Being pulled in so many directions doesn’t come without its challenges though, and the most recent spring semester threw her a curveball like none other. UWRF’s Dairy Pilot Plant was already closed for the year due to the ongoing renovation project. For Farner, it meant making adaptations to the classes she teaches, including substituting field trips for what would normally be hands-on experiences in the on-campus plant. The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing movement to online courses added another hurdle for Farner. Nevertheless, she improvised yet again and remained committed to her students’ education. “My class had a lab and it was challenging enough with the dairy pilot plant being shut down, but we made it through. I sent supplies for the labs to students. Part of our curriculum is on quality and sanitation, so they learned about the chemicals they have at home,” she explains. “I sent them water quality strips and pH strips and they were able to do some testing on their own. We did milk quality testing as an experiment that they worked on their own. It was a challenging period, but it was worthwhile.” While her list of duties may seem exhausting to some, Farner is nothing if not enthusiastic about her job. Her passion for cheesemaking, the dairy industry, UWRF and her students is palpable, and she credits that continued passion with her ability to flex her creative muscles. “I have been allowed to be creative here and with that creativity comes passion. With that passion comes education and I’m able to teach with passion because I’m able to be creative. Cheesemaking is science but it’s also a lot of creativity,” she says. “The fact that I’m allowed to be creative has made it a lot more fun and I think I’ve passed that onto the students.” To learn more about the Dairy Pilot Plant Renovations, Falcon Foods or the UWRF Dairy Products Evaluation Team, visit



falcon feature

UWRF faculty, staff and students are required to wear cloth face coverings and practice physical distancing in all indoor classrooms. Face coverings are also required outdoors when physical distancing is not possible. Students who are roommates or part of the same household are not required to wear face coverings when together.



COVID-19 Collaboration. Confidence. Courage. by Kelsea Wissing

Time seems to have moved at an odd pace in 2020. Days and weeks of blurry, fast-paced decisions and information that seemed to evolve by the minute flew by, followed by a slog of a late spring that left everyone wondering what the next step was. Then came a tenuous arrival into summer, openings and closings, questions and answers that just lead to more questions. Now fall looms and more changes are in store. The year 2020, as we often keep reminding ourselves, has been strange.



falcon feature Joe Kmiech, Crystal Lanning and Karla Thoennes aren’t exactly rookies in their fields. Seasoned leaders with years of collective experience on their resumes, none of the three are strangers to wearing lots of hats and making hard decisions. Still, all three were faced with a brand-new challenge this spring - leading through a pandemic – a challenge that left all three tested, changed and quite possibly, a little exhausted. Kmiech, UW-River Falls chief information officer and executive director of the Division of Technology Services (DoTS), leaned on his experience as military veteran to help stay levelheaded as the chair of the university’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Lanning, whose usual role as Athletics director necessitates an ability to pivot quickly from task to task, was able to smoothly transition to a role on the EOC after the NCAA halted athletic competitions. And Thoennes, UWRF’s director of Residence Life, tapped the collective strengths of her staff to coordinate an unprecedented, largescale move out process. Despite the individual strengths and leadership qualities that all three brought to the table, Kmiech, Lanning and Thoennes are all sure of one thing: it was a team effort. Kmiech recalls hearing from UW System about the novel coronavirus for the first time in mid-January – ages ago it seems like. “We heard an inkling that this might be a thing. I’d been told that the UW System EOC was going to be activating and they were asking campuses to do the same,” he says. The EOC is an extension of the campus Emergency Management Team (EMT), a group of UWRF employees trained to handle crises



on campus. The EMT is a “collaboration commitment to campus” according to Kmiech and is made up of volunteers who hold other full-time positions on campus. Normally, the EMT’s work centers around a monthly meeting covering potential issues or upcoming events, like making sure that a 5k held on campus sets up the proper barriers and provides adequate hydration. In addition to more mundane risk management items, the EMT also has guidelines in place for dealing with more pressing issues, everything from fires to chemical spills to bomb threats and, as we learned this year, pandemics. “We have a pandemic plan,” says Kmiech. “We were prepared from an emergency management standpoint for a pandemic. What we didn’t have a lot of planning and thought around was continuing to operate under a pandemic. That was the biggest challenge at a high level.” As Kmiech explains it, the general thought is that an emergency or disaster that affects campus will force campus to stop operating, even momentarily. The goal is to manage the disaster, recover and then reopen. The slow move of COVID-19, however, necessitated a long-term operation, one where campus was still operating, just in a slightly different fashion. The long-term nature of the university’s response didn’t come without downfalls. With the EOC at a Level Three activation, Kmiech says people were putting in 12-16 hour days, sometimes seven days a week. “It was a huge lift, a huge undertaking. All the planning you do to get prepared, some things you just can’t be prepared for and you have to work through those and figure it out,” he says.

ooo Collaboration was ultimately at the heart of UWRF’s COVID-19 response. Employees from all over campus were suddenly faced with something no one had previous experience in. Faculty were figuring out alternate plans for labs and how to replicate their classes in a virtual space. Residence Life was tasked with moving over 2,500 students out of the residence halls, while groups like Career Services and Student Involvement were trying to work out how they could virtually serve students. The business operations of the university needed to function seamlessly with a mostly remote workforce and the Admissions team needed to power ahead with recruitment processes. Without collaboration, none of it would have worked. For Kmiech and his DoTS team, the burden was moving campus online - and doing it quickly. In collaboration with the Student Success Office and Brandon Meyer, dean’s assistant in the College of Business and Economics, DoTS

UWRF’s reaction to COVID-19 Mid-January Joe Kmiech, EOC manager, is notified by UW System that System’s EOC would be activating to monitor developing coronavirus situation.

Late-January UWRF activates Phase 1 of EOC. Team establishes goals, monitors the situation and figures out how to proceed.

March 9 Pierce County, home to UWRF, announces first confirmed case of COVID-19, EOC moves to Level 3 activation.

March 11 Leadership makes decision to suspend classes for a week (March 16-20) and move classes to alternate modes of instruction through April 10.

March 16 Chancellor Dean Van Galen announces the move to alternative modes of course delivery for remainder of the spring semester and cancellation of campus events.

March 18 Majority of UWRF workforce transitions to telecommuting, most campus buildings are closed.

March 20 Chancellor Van Galen announces that spring commencement is postponed.

March 24 Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers announces “Safer at Home” emergency order.

March 30 Following a week of cancelled classes and a weeklong Spring Break, classes resume – virtually – for students and faculty.

April 2 Chancellor Van Galen announces that summer courses will also be delivered via alternative modes of instruction.

June 4 Campus leadership announces that the postponed in-person spring commencement, scheduled for August 8, will not be able to be held safely. Leadership also announces that in-person classes will resume fall 2020, but with a litany of health and safety protocols enforced.



falcon feature created a survey to identify student technology needs. They received approximately 170 responses from students whose troubles ranged from a lack of webcam to not enough bandwidth. The team then worked with internal and external partners to fulfill their needs, whether it was finding them emergency hotspots set up by the State or shipping them a laptop or camera. Kmiech, who previously served in the Army National Guard, drew on his military experience to help him through the trying time. “It helped with being able to keep calm in very stressful situations. Very similar with our COVID-19 response, we have to take a cooler head sometimes,” he explains. “You can’t panic, you have to take a second and process the information and work as a team and formulate the best action or plan so we can do the right thing at the right time.”


UWRF Dining provides meals to go, and students are advised to eat independently or with members of their household.

While Kmiech took on the role of managing the EOC back in a pre-COVID world in September 2019, Lanning was thrust onto the committee in mid-March, shortly after the NCAA and WIAC cancelled the remainder of winter championships and spring sports competitions. She also chaired the Fall 2020 Decisions Task Force, which focused on making plans and recommendations for UWRF’s fall semester. Thanks to her role as athletic director, Lanning had experience serving on the Chancellor’s Cabinet and helping to make high-level decisions for campus. Confidence in her ability to think big picture became crucial to her work on the EOC. “The big shift was now with everything we were doing, you had



to have your campus hat on. We were really fortunate that the group [EOC] we had, everyone did that,” she explains. “As much as you want to focus on athletics, that takes a backseat to everything. Everyone worked together and figured it out.”

of perishable food left behind by students who thought they’d be returning after a brief hiatus. Ultimately, staff had to go into each room and remove food from the fridges so students weren’t faced with additional sanitation issues when they eventually returned to move out.

The teamwork piece was easy for Lanning, but other unexpected challenges weren’t. Disappointment hit hard in her department, maybe more so than some of her counterparts. The women’s hockey team was in the middle of an NCAA tournament run when the decision came down from above to cancel the tournament. The team played – and won – their opening round tournament game on March 11. The next morning, plans were being made to play the next round with no spectators. Within a few hours, the NCAA called off the tournament completely.

The Residence Life team was tasked with a challenge that went far beyond spoiled food – moving students out of the residence halls in a safe, physically-distanced, health and safety-compliant manner. It wasn’t easy but thanks to assistance from fellow staff members and a group of UWRF alumni eager to help, they pulled it off. Thoennes connected with UWRF’s Advancement and Alumni Relations staff and pulled together a group of volunteers who spent four days calling and more than eight days assisting with student moveout.

“We went from this high of winning on Wednesday night to ‘okay, it’s going to be played but with no spectators’ to a few hours later it’s not happening at all,” she recalls. “That was probably the most difficult conversation I had to have, to tell that team – as they’re making a run through the NCAA playoffs – that everything was coming to a screeching halt.”

“We knew we had a good process, but everybody came together to make it happen. That included calling the students personally, which seemed like one last thing we could do for the academic year that was kind and welcoming,” she recalls. “They [the Alumni Office] reached out early on and asked how they could help but we couldn’t find a way. Then as moveout approached, I knew I needed human beings, we needed people to make calls and greet people.”

ooo Thoennes and her staff dealt with disappointment as well, albeit slightly differently. “It was very difficult at the beginning. We were taking what seemed to be pretty drastic steps. It felt very counter to the way we do business, but we knew it was for the best. We would never force people out of housing in less than a week, but we knew we had to do that,” she recalls. “We originally closed with the intent that we were going to come back after break and we had students that needed to stay. Once we knew we weren’t coming back to faceto-face instruction, we also knew we couldn’t manage 800 [remaining] students from a safety point of view.” “We know it made some hardships and that was very, very hard for us, but it was the right thing to do,” Thoennes says. “ It took some courage, but we were supporting that safety value that we had made our number one priority at the time.” Along with disappointment, came some surprises. As an experienced leader, Thoennes felt capable of handling the situation. After all, there were specific emergency plans in place. That didn’t mean every detail had been thought of yet, though. When it was determined that students weren’t coming back, Thoennes was hit with the realization that the residence halls were chockfull of mini refrigerators full

“We had faculty and staff who helped and we’re grateful for them but if we didn’t have that alumni crew that stepped up, we wouldn’t have been able to do this. They all showed up and it made such a huge difference for students and families to see these caring people.”

ooo Through it all – the hard decisions, the challenges, the surprises, the disappointments and everything in between – people came together. The UWRF community was tested but we’ve persevered. Creativity has been found in places we hadn’t necessarily looked before, new partnerships shined in a sometimes bleak situation, folks stepped up and faced challenges for the betterment of campus. Kmiech, Lanning and Thoennes all agree that lessons were learned – some more positive than others. They all emphasize the importance of clear communication and acknowledge just how difficult it is to make hard decisions in a fluid situation. But they, like the rest of campus, are carrying those learned lessons forward, and not just into the fall 2020 semester but into their everyday practices. Above all, everyone’s going to leave 2020 a little bit changed, some more than others. Despite the changes, one thing’s for sure: We are still Falcons. FALCON FEATURES FALL 2020


falcon feature

BetterTogether Working towards a

common goal.

by Kelsea Wissing

On June 5, a couple dozen UWRF student-athletes organized a donation drive in River Falls to benefit affected families in the Minneapolis area.

Submitted photos



Working towards a common goal is an attitude athletes may be more familiar with than your average person. For a group of UW-River Falls studentathletes, the pull of working together to accomplish something was strong in the wake of nationwide protests in late May and early June. Shortly after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, riots erupted across the country, with the Twin Cities quickly becoming the epicenter of a movement by a nation in turmoil. Recent UWRF graduate and women’s basketball alumna Jaycie Geerding felt compelled to do something – anything – that she could to help. She reached out to UWRF junior Anthony Silva, a member of the Falcon football team. Together, the pair recruited a couple dozen other student-athletes to organize a donation drive to benefit affected families in the Minneapolis area. The group sprang into action to coordinate the drive on June 5 in downtown River Falls, spending a whirlwind 48 hours hustling around town securing a location and tables, making posters and distributing flyers to local businesses. They contacted City Hall and were connected with Family Fresh, a local grocery store that happened to own a large, empty parking lot near campus. Jack Stensgaard, a fifth-year senior and member of the men’s basketball team, worked with his roommate, a city employee, to secure barricades and tables from the city. It was a mad dash to pull the event off, but the athletes agreed the effort was more than worth it. “We understand the privilege we have to be able to attend college and play sports – there aren’t many people that get to do that,” explained Anders Amdahl, a senior football player. “While watching what was happening in Minneapolis, we felt this urge to come together as a community to try and make a difference. I think it was really important that we did this because it showed people that when we work together, there is so much good that can be accomplished.”

Senior women’s basketball player Brianna Koop echoed Amdahl’s comments. “I really wanted to do something here in our community. I talked with some other student-athletes and they wanted to the same. I wanted to do something to help those affected in the Cities,” she said. “Sometimes we forget how fortunate we are. Helping those who need it most during this hard time was extremely rewarding.” Heading into the drive, the athletes say they didn’t have a particular goal in mind – they just wanted to do what they could. More than 50 athletes worked the drive throughout the day, with some waving signs to draw in passersbys and advocate for Black Lives Matter, while others collected items ranging from non-perishable food and water to hygiene products, baby items and clothes. They also took cash donations, and thanks to a healthy social media drive, collected nearly $1,800 in donations before the drive even started. All told, the group raised $2,216 and filled a 10-foot U-Haul and two other trucks with physical goods for donation. Proceeds from the drive went to We Push for Peace, a 501c3 non-profit based in Minneapolis that serves city residents affected by both the COVID-19 pandemic and the protests. For Stensgaard, the benefits of the drive didn’t just come in the form of donations. He felt that the message sent by the athletes’ united actions will aid future generations.

At the end of the day, no matter how much they raised or who recognized their efforts, for Falcon student-athletes, the drive simply represented what was in their hearts. As Koop put it, they just wanted to show their support. “We just wanted to make a little change in the world,” she said.

Coaching for a Cause When Blake DuDonis was hired as UWRF’s head women’s basketball coach in May 2019, he was finally able to act on a plan he’d had in mind for years.

“It was important because the next generation of soon-to-beworking class adults is taking action. We’ve had a year full of crazy events, but we were able to put something on ourselves and hoped it would spread to our friends,” he explained. “That’s the people who are going to fix the problems – people who are our age and younger leading by example.”

Growing up, DuDonis worked with Samaritan’s Feet, a humanitarian organization dedicated to creating a world with zero shoeless children. He told himself that if he were ever in a position as a head coach to raise awareness, he would use his platform to have a barefoot game to raise money and awareness for the organization.

While the group is quick to point out their humble reasonings for organizing the drive, their efforts have not gone unnoticed. Earlier this summer they received national recognition when the NCAA honored the drive as the June Diversity Spotlight Recipient. Closer to home, their coaches and administrators took notice.

So, on January 31, during a home game against Mount Mary University, DuDonis coached the entire contest in his bare feet.

“I was so proud to see so many Falcon athletes come together so quickly for such an important cause. It speaks volumes to the type of character of the members of our Falcon family,” said Matt Walker, head football coach at UWRF. “And I’m really proud of this great River Falls community that we live in that came out to support the efforts of this group of athletes who were just trying to do some good in the world.” Athletics Director Crystal Lanning echoed Walker’s sentiments. “They came up with this plan themselves. They organized the logistics, found a location, organized bringing the donated items to Minneapolis,” she shared. “From start to finish this was a student-led project and really the staff and the coaches didn’t have any involvement, it was them start to finish. It made me really proud.”

“It was a no-brainer for me when I got the job,” he explained. “I own more shoes than I can even count but then you’ve got people, particularly children, around the world who don’t and because of that, they suffer footborne illnesses. They have a shorter life simply because they can’t get one single pair of shoes. Providing just one pair of shoes can literally save somebody’s life.” For DuDonis, the value of his barefoot game went beyond what was raised for charity. He isn’t shy about using his platform as a collegiate coach for good and hopes to inspire more than just his own players. “As a coach, our role is to provide guidance and leadership to our teams, but I think we are obligated to use our platform to make impacts on people. I’ve got a decent platform, so in my mind, if I’m not using it to speak for people who can’t speak for themselves or don’t have a platform, then what am I doing?” he said. “For me, it’s about looking at something bigger than yourself. It’s not necessarily about the people in your life but about other human beings who are being neglected. I think it’s important to show people that you can be bold and stand up and that your voice has value and you should speak courageously.” FALCON FEATURES FALL 2020


falcon feature


Courage A conversation about education, race and community by Kelsea Wissing

Anthony Silva considered more than two dozen colleges during his search for the perfect school. He had three top prerequisites for the place that would ultimately be his home – it needed to have his intended major, be affordable and not be located near his hometown of Las Vegas. An extensive search eventually led him 1,700 miles to UW-River Falls. He moved onto campus in August 2017 and never looked back. For Kwashon Collins, Silva’s teammate on the Falcon football team, his path to UWRF was slightly more circuitous. Collins, a St. Paul native, attended two different community colleges before taking a year off school. He had heard of UW-River Falls in high school but never seriously considered it until he was – in his



words – finally ready to figure out his degree and his life. He connected with the football staff and the rest, as they say, is history. While they literally landed in Wisconsin from different sides of the country, Silva and Collins have both found a home at UW-River Falls. In addition to being student athletes, both live and work in town year-round, are involved in student organizations and community service and are working towards double majors – Collins in criminology and sociology, Silva in marketing communications and communication studies. While they both are thriving as Falcons and have definitely found their niche on campus, their experience hasn’t been without its ups and downs.

Collins is Black, Silva Hispanic. Both are minorities on a predominantly white UWRF campus. While they each praised elements of the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, both couldn’t help but be reminded of times when their differences stood out. “They are just not familiar with my face,” Collins says when talking about his peers. “I’m out here in the ‘country’ as the people in the Cities would say. It’s an eye opener for me. I feel like most people on my team have never even had a Black teammate.”

racism, reaffirming its commitment to being antiracist and inclusive and calling for the campus community to address issues of injustice and inequality. For Silva and Collins, change starts with education and as an institution of higher learning, the university is well-equipped to be the change. It’s crucial, though, that everyone be open to having those much-needed, albeit tough, conversations.

Silva agrees and points to a lack of shared experience as a hurdle he’s faced.

“For some people, [UWRF] is the most diverse place they’ve been. They’re only comfortable with what they come from, but you won’t succeed in life without getting uncomfortable,” he says. “Be open. Don’t just hang around the same people. Ask questions, find connections.”

“Not a lot of people can relate to you. Not a lot of people are going to understand the experiences that you have and the perspectives that you’re going to have,” he explains. Those experiences, Collins says, are as simple as having black skin and to someone who hasn’t walked in his shoes, his descriptions of otherwise mundane experiences are hard to swallow. “It’s things like wearing a hoodie. I’ll see a cop car and take my hoodie down because I feel like I shouldn’t be wearing it,” he says. “Little stuff like that is in the back of my head when I’m walking. It’s just a constant fear in the back of your head, you worrying about your appearance. It doesn’t make you feel great.” “At least out here [in River Falls] it’s quieter, you can find your peace better out here,” he adds. In the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis on May 25, and the ensuing riots around the country, Silva, Collins, River Falls and the campus community were faced with a renewed conversation about racism. Everyday experiences like what Collins described were thrust back into the spotlight as folks around the country – and on campus – grappled with how to make changes. It was hard for young people like Silva and Collins, two young men already carrying the weight of full-time school and work and athletic commitments and grappling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, something that had already turned many college student’s lives upside down. “George Floyd’s death has released a lot of anger. It’s sparked a lot of issues within people, caused a lot of things, but it’s a human rights issue. The killing of George Floyd has raised points about systematic racism, the socioeconomic gap between minorities and whites. It shows a lot of what this country was built on,” explains Silva.

For starters, “you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable” according to Silva.

“I’ve got a teammate who’s a white small-town kid, but he’s blunt about it, he’s honest about his background. He’s being considerate of others, he’s asking questions and trying to learn. As a teammate, I want to feel that connection, it shows that you care,” Silva says. “Then educate yourself. I tell people to learn history. Learn the history of the crime bill, the 13th amendment, abolishment. Learn the history and you’ll understand things from a different perspective,” he continues. “But then hang out with someone from a different background and understand where they come from. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, don’t be afraid to be blunt.” Collins echoes Silva’s call for getting uncomfortable and educating yourself but also points to the power of acknowledgment. “Acknowledging what’s going on is so important. Even if it’s saying ‘I don’t really know what to say right now.’ Find that courage,” he says. Beyond that, both men say education is a two-way street and recognize that it’s just the beginning on the journey to a fairer and more just world. And while the lack of shared experience that Silva pointed out earlier can be tough, it’s also a great springboard for those much-needed conversations. “It’s important to sit down and listen, hear another perspective. We have an opportunity to educate whoever we’re around. Educate others about yourself, your experience, your perspective. You can open up to people who have different ways of life,” he says. “It’s important to see that reflection from all of us.”

For its part, the university released a statement condemning FALCON FEATURES FALL 2020


falcon athletics

Still Champions

1983 Falcons are title-winning donors

Former SID Honored by WIAC By Kelsea Wissing

“If you surround yourself with quality people and great friends, the sky’s the limit.”

Former UW-River Falls Sports Information Director Jim Thies has been honored by the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) as the 2020 recipient of the conference’s Tom Butler Award. Thies spent 39 years in his role as the sports information director at UWRF before retiring in 2015.

- Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky

The 1982-83 UW-River Falls men’s hockey team epitomized Gretzky’s quote, combining experience, talent, leadership and good fortune to capture the NAIA Championship, the first national title in UWRF history. “We were like brothers and everything came together,” says Mike Collins, a member of the legendary team. “We had excellent players and a great leader in head coach George Gwozdecky. What really stands out is each player put the team ahead of himself. Winning was way more important than personal goals.” The 1982-83 Falcons remain a close-knit group. Collins is the chief organizer of popular team reunions, when the team relives the glories of its championship run and consider ways to make a difference for today’s UWRF. Team members have contributed nearly $275,000 to their alma mater. They’ve supported both the men’s and women’s hockey programs, the Falcon Center building project and the hockey locker room renovation. The team recently supported Falcons 4 Ever, a campaign to name Falcon Center offices and rooms for UWRF legends Mike Davis, Connie Foster, Byron James and Gary “Stump” Eloranta. The team dedicated its donation to Eloranta, the long-time and beloved UWRF athletic trainer. The team has also supported a variety of campus-wide initiatives, programs and projects, including the Falcon Annual Fund, Falcon Scholars, and the Dr. Robert “Doc” Bailey Fund for the Office of International Education. “We give back because we all feel blessed to have benefited from our experiences here,” Collins says. “Almost four decades after we were here, it’s rewarding to still be a team that makes an impact at UWRF.”



The Tom Butler Award, presented annually since 1998, honors a representative of the print or electronic media for outstanding coverage of WIAC athletics. Former WIAC sports information directors may also be considered for the award. The league’s sports information directors select the winner in honor of Tom Butler, who served the WIAC as its sports information director from 1967-96. “When I started at UWRF, Tom Butler was a part-time SID for the conference plus he was a sports reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal. Not only was he a great professional but he turned out to be a great friend,” recalled Thies. “I could call him and say ‘Hey, I’ve got an idea, how could I put this out there?’ and he was always willing to talk and help me. To win this award with Tom’s name on it is just awesome, it just means so much to me.” Thies’ gratitude for the honor is compounded by the makeup of the selection committee. “To be recognized by my peers means so much. I worked with them for years and years,” he said. “What a great group of people the SIDs around the league are, so to be recognized by them means so much. They’re all great friends and great people. We all worked so well together. It’s a tremendous honor.” A graduate of Minnesota State University Mankato, Thies became the second SID in UWRF history when he took over the role in 1976, leading the department until his retirement in June 2015. In a career that spanned nearly four decades, Thies mentored hundreds of students while

According to Thies, working with students was one of the most rewarding aspects of his job.

overseeing all facets of the Sports Information Department. He quickly pointed to his past students when asked about his favorite memories from his career. “I don’t miss the hours,” he said with a laugh. “Having said that, it’s the people, especially the students. I loved working with the students, not just student-athletes but the students I employed. There were 10, 12, 15 every year. Watching them grow up and mature and walk out the door having grown as a person and a professional was so rewarding. I still talk to them and am still friends with them and am so happy to see what they’ve done in their careers and personal lives.” From 1991-2009, the Kansas City Chiefs held their Summer Training Camp at UWRF, with Thies assisting with the coordination of media services each year. He was also responsible for the creation of the Summer Training Camp intern program and, with the assistance of a student employee in the mid-90s, his office created the first website for a collegiate athletic department in Wisconsin. Thies served the university in ways far beyond his SID role. In addition to his sports information duties, he also worked as UW-River Falls assistant public affairs director for much of his tenure and was a member of a variety of committees ranging from public relations and budget committees to the Academic Staff Council and Athletics Hall of Fame Committee. Thies was the 2012 recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Academic Staff and received a 25Year Award from the College Sports Information Directors of America (COSIDA) in 2002. In 2019, he was inducted into the UW-River Falls Athletic Hall of Fame for his positive contributions to the Athletic Department over the course of his career.

photos by Kathy Helgeson



virtual commencement

Virtual Commencement August 8, 2020, brought the first-ever virtual commencment ceremony from UWRF. Hundreds of viewers witnessed the degree confirmation for over 900 graduates from the comfort of their homes. Below is just a sampling of photos submitted by graduates as they celebrated their accomplishments. To see these and other submitted photos as well as the enitre commencement ceremony, visit here.




campus development

Home Away from Home Hathorn Hall celebrates 70 years of campus housing.

Dean of Women Irma Hathorn stands on the steps of Hathorn Hall. In 1950, UW-River Falls President E. H. Kleinpell named the hall after Hathorn in honor of her untiring efforts to keep the goal of a women’s dormitory at UWRF alive. Inset: The cornerstone laying ceremony for Hathorn Hall in December 1950. It was snowing and both participants and spectators were bundled in heavy coats.

Built in 1950, Hathorn Hall is the oldest and largest residence hall on campus. The co-ed hall is located in the heart of campus with accommodations for 400 students. Hathorn Hall is also the first building to be named after a woman, Irma Hathorn who joined the UWRF faculty as Dean of Women in 1920. Hathorn served in her role for 30 years. Hathorn made a name for herself since she arrived on the UW-River Falls campus in 1920. Active and outspoken on women’s issues, Hathorn made it her business to ensure students found meaningful employment and opportunities to become wellrounded young adults. She was respected by students, faculty and university leadership alike. Upon her retirement in 1949, Hathorn reflected on her passion to create possibilities for young women entering college. “It is just 30 years this fall since I came to River Falls with the hope the girls would have a dormitory in a few years. I am sure that dormitory life will mean much more than the present student body realizes,” according to Hathorn.

Hathorn’s legacy and guiding hand has impacted UWRF and its students far beyond the construction of the first women’s dormitory, according to Karla Thoennes, director of Residence Life. Hathorn paved the way for a fundamental shift in perspective about women in higher education. Among the milestones Hathorn found pivotal in her time as Dean of Women were opportunities for students to engage and have a voice in their education. “There have been many changes during the years I have been here,” she said. “Some of the most interesting developments in which I have had a part were the beginning of a student activity fee, a student social committee, the Student Senate, the Honor Society, the student health service and Mother’s Day (a day when mothers of students were invited to the campus).” In addition to her role as Dean of Women, Hathorn taught courses in Latin and education and served as adviser for the Student Social Committee and the Young Women’s Christian Association.

May Hall Renovation The $7.4 million May Hall renovation is nearly complete. In addition to an air conditioning system, the project features several other new amenities in the UWRF residence hall. An elevator has been installed and a new kitchen and common spaces in the basement will provide engaging spaces for student gatherings, post-COVID-19 distancing restrictions. Additional common spaces have been built on each floor. An outdoor patio space will provide students a get-away that’s not too far way. May Hall is a co-ed residence hall that houses nearly 200 students. It was built in 1960 and is named after former Professor John M. May, who served as a UWRF professor from 1913 to 1957.

The residence hall population at UWRF is 70% women this fall. FALCON FEATURES FALL 2020


donor profile Giving back to those who give to you

Langer lives life of gratitude

After a long pause, he responded: “You give back to those who give to you.” Certainly, nothing has been “given” to Langer, but he’s quick to credit others for opportunities he’s earned over a lifetime filled with joy and sorrow, success and challenge. Langer, a native of Spring Valley, was only seven and the oldest of four brothers when his father died, leaving his mother, Lorraine, to run the family business, a tavern. “I’m very proud of what my mom accomplished,” says Langer. “She had a remarkable work ethic and set an example for my brothers and me. She ran a successful business, but never lost focus on our family. And I’ll always be grateful for the support given to us by the community.” A junior high teacher inspired Langer to consider college, and he went on to earn two bachelor’s degrees from UWRF: mathematics and economics in 1960 and secondary education in 1962. “I wanted to grow and learn about different perspectives about the world,” Langer says. “River Falls gave that foundation of learning to me. That’s I give back.” WWW.UWRF.EDU/ALUMNI 22why

Award-Winning Distinguished Alumnus Roger T. Williams Roger Williams is a consultant/ mediator, having served 33 years as a UW-Madison/ Extension professor and two years as a vocational ag instructor at Darlington High School. He grew up on a Waukesha County dairy farm and for the past 40 years has provided leadership initiatives to assist farm families including self-help programs, videos, and guidebooks to foster stress management, improve communication and plan for the future.

by Rick Foy

Vic Langer paused, leaned back in his chair and gazed at a line of boats motoring up the Mississippi River, only yards from his Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired riverfront home in Diamond Bluff. He was pondering a question: “Why do you support UW-River Falls?”

alumni recognition

Langer has given back to UWRF in significant ways, supporting the Falcon Scholars program for several years and endowing the Vic and Karon Langer Memorial Scholarship Fund in 2019. The scholarship is awarded to a student who, like Langer, may come from a single-parent household or face the necessity of working while earning his or her degree. The fund honors Langer’s wife, Karon, who passed away four years ago, his mother, and the village of Spring Valley, whose residents “supported the Langer family in a variety of caring, meaningful and transformational ways.” After a two-year teaching stint in Tripoli, Langer went on to a successful 30-year teaching and administration career at Milwaukee Area Technical College where he pioneered the use of technologies in the classroom and became director of instructional development, overseeing 160 occupational associate degree and diploma programs. He retired in 1989. After a six-year battle with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources over flood plain issues, the Langers prevailed and built their dream home on the banks of the Mississippi: “Wright on the River – The Langer House.” When Karon died, he erected a memorial bench which overlooks the scenic river. “I come here to meditate,” says Langer, the father of four and grandfather of 10. “It’s a perfect spot to reflect on the wonderful life we had together. I’m very grateful.”

Williams has worked to form a federally funded Sowing the Seeds of Hope initiative to deal with farm stress in seven Midwestern states. He is also the founder of the Harvest of Hope Fund, providing financial assistance and hope to Wisconsin farm families in distress. Since it was founded in January 1986, the fund has granted more than 1,660 gifts totaling more than $1,082,000. He is a volunteer mediator with the Wisconsin Farm Center, mediating farm family conflicts across the state, and he serves on the advisory board for AgrAbility of Wisconsin and on the governing board of the Food, Faith and Farming Network. In addition, Williams has worked with the Dane County Alliance for the Mentally Ill to organize a nation-wide conference resulting in the formation of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to support and advocate for families of persons with persistent mental illnesses. NAMI now has over 1,500 state and local chapters with more than 500,000 members across the U.S. He was one of the founding members of the Wisconsin Prevention Network (WPN). He served on the governing board of WPN, chaired the WPN Public Policy Committee and worked to organize the Annual Wisconsin Prevention Conference. He has also made significant contributions in teaching and programming related to men’s issues. Williams received a bachelor’s degree in vocational agriculture from Wisconsin State College-River Falls and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in adult and continuing education from UW-Madison.

Alumni - 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award Duane Roen Born on a dairy farm east of River Falls, Duane Roen loved language at an early age. In Woodville, his eighth-grade language arts teacher, Joyce King, was an inspirational role model and at Baldwin-Woodville High School, his English teacher Claire Stein (also a UWRF alum) further inspired him. Roen earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English teaching at UWRF where his mentor was English Professor Nicholas Karolides. Nick’s influence was so great, in fact, that Roen and his wife, Maureen, named their first child after him. Roen began his career teaching English at New Richmond High School where he served as K-12 language arts chair and coached baseball, directed debate and forensics, and advised the school newspaper. Currently an English professor at Arizona State University, Roen serves as dean of the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, vice provost, and coordinator for the Project for Writing and Recording Family History. He has also served as head of interdisciplinary studies, head of humanities and arts; director of composition; codirector of the graduate program in rhetoric, composition, and linguistics; director of the Center for Learning and Teaching Excellence; and was president of the Academic Senate. At Syracuse University, he served as the writing program director. At the University of Arizona, he was founding director of the graduate program in rhetoric, composition, and the teaching of English, as well as director of graduate studies in the Department of English. Roen has also been president of the Council of Writing Program Administrators, secretary of the Conference on College Composition and Communication, and coeditor of the scholarly journal WPA: Writing Program Administration. He has served on their many committees, as well as the National Council of Teachers of English, Two-Year College Association (TYCA-West), and the Arizona English Teachers Association. Roen has published 11 books in addition to more than 300 articles, chapters, and conference presentations.

Outstanding Young Alumnus Alan Kruizenga Alan Kruizenga is passionate about bringing practical knowledge, application orientation, and problem solving to theoretical science to make great ideas a reality. He kindled his interest in a scientific career as a physics major at UWRF before earning a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering and engineering physics at UW-Madison. Currently, Kruizenga is the director of salt chemistry at Kairos Power, leading development activities on advanced nuclear reactor technology: a Fluoride-Cooled High-Temperature Reactor (FHR). Before joining Kairos Power, Kruizenga led high-temperature salt experimental work, as well as other materials science and chemistry programs at Sandia National Laboratories. During his time there, he developed a reputation as an expert in molten salt chemistry and materials performance. In 2017, President Obama awarded Kruizenga the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers in the early stages of their careers, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. He resides in Oakland, Calif., with his wife, Kate, and son, Calvin, and loves coffee, completing never-ending renovations on his 120-year-old home, and exploring nature through backpacking.

“I am deeply honored to receive the Outstanding Young Alumni Award, as I have so much respect and admiration for UWRF, and my highly accomplished fellow alumni,” he said. “UWRF fostered a lifelong desire to both learn and apply my knowledge, and this has underpinned my success in graduate school and my career. In particular, the continued investment and mentorship of Lowell McCann, Earl Blodgett and Jim Madsen both during my undergraduate studies and in the decades since, has made all the difference. I have enjoyed the opportunity to support the continued life changing work of the UWRF Physics Department and hope I am able to continue to support and mentor current students and alumni throughout my career.”

Outstanding Service Awards James Newton “Newt” Greaser Newt Greaser dedicated nearly 20 years to the UW-River Falls football program as a volunteer assistant coach. Together with legendary head coach Mike Farley, the two forged a remarkable friendship and coaching style which powered the Falcons run to eight WIAC championships and the team’s first ever post-season appearance. Greaser served as the Falcons offensive line coach and developed the careers of 16 All Americans and 30 allconference selections. The 1979 team ranks as one of the university’s greatest, earning a conference title and compiling a regular season record of 9-1. The team advanced to the first round of the NAIA Division 1 playoffs. Behind an offensive line featuring two all-conference performers, the 1986 team won another WIAC championship and led the nation in rushing, averaging nearly 362 yards a game. While Greaser’s coaching career ended in 1989, he remains close to many former Falcon student-athletes, serving as a lifelong mentor and friend. Greaser, who lives in River Falls, was inducted into the UWRF Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2012. After retiring from the financial services industry, Greaser and his wife, Karna, enjoyed boating on the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers, camping around the U.S. and Canada, and wintering in Mexico. Karna passed away in January 2020. Mike Noreen Inspired by adventure and nature, disturbed by overconsumption and greed and compelled to make change, Mike Noreen had taken a long and fortuitous path to become the City of River Falls conservation and efficiency coordinator. Degrees in biology, environmental education and ecology shaped his prior career stops as a field technician, teacher, ski bum, naturalist and fire starter and suppressor. His contributions within multiple UW-River Falls departments have been invaluable in supporting the university’s vision of sustainability. Noreen has shared his expertise, collaborated with faculty, students and staff, contributed to sustainable community research and sought out opportunities for UWRF to be leaders in sustainable management. He is an active member of the campus Sustainability Working Group and Energy Management Team and regularly donates his time to speak to various classes in the Plant and Earth Science Department. He has served as a student mentor and advised on multiple projects within various university buildings. “It’s been an honor to collaborate with the UWRF community,” Noreen says. “It’s rewarding to partner with people, organizations and institutions like UWRF that want to make the world a better place.” Noreen earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental education and biology from Western Washington University and a master’s degree in teaching science (ecology) from Northern Arizona University. FALCON FEATURES FALL 2020


alumni recognition

Falcon Forever:

Chaplain Richmond E. Stoglin By Kelsea Wissing

When Chaplain Richmond E. Stoglin arrived on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in 1975 as a student, he discovered he was in for more than a few surprises. A Texas native, the climate difference he endured in Wisconsin turned out to be just one shock he’d remember for years. “The winters were very memorable. They say Wisconsin has four seasons, I found two: very hot and very cold. And very hot was very humid!” he says with a hearty laugh. Steered towards UWRF by a mentor, Stoglin came to the university at a time when campus was trying to add diversity to the student body. The gentleman felt that the “outspoken” future chaplain needed to get out of Waco for a bit and River Falls was a great solution. On campus, Stoglin faced many surprises beyond the weather, but settled in and found his niche. He organized a church for students, became heavily involved in the university’s Black Student Union and developed a fierce rapport with his history professors. He also took a job at the River Falls A&W Restaurant, making him the location’s first African American employee. Reminiscing on his time at UWRF, Stoglin fondly recalls his time in May Hall and recounts the radical concept of co-ed residence halls. There, he says, you learned boundaries and how to look at someone as a human being. He says he sported a “TWA” – a teeny-weeny afro – as a student and talks about being questioned about his skin and hair while working at the A&W. He describes the phenomenon of Alex Haley’s “Roots” airing during his college years, how things would come to a standstill and parties wouldn’t start until after the evening’s episode. “Dealing with various cultures stands out to me. To be in a predominantly white environment versus the environment that I came out of. Those were good experiences because it broadened my appreciation of other cultures,” he says. Memories of his undergraduate experience are abundant for Stoglin but the impact his education had on him is strikingly rich. A history major, Stoglin connected with his professors and their influence runs deep within him today.


“I was quite intrigued by some of the history I was learning,” he says. “Dr. [Edward] Peterson, Dr. Herb Cederberg, Stephen Feinstein, those were some of the key components of my learning. They really understood and took great time and effort in their craft.” His experiences at UWRF served him well after graduation. After graduating with a history degree in 1979, he moved to Atlanta for seminary. Seminary was always part of the plan, he says, emphasizing that he knew he was going to seminary as early as age 14. He followed those plans and graduated from Gammon Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity in May 1982. He added a Master of Public Administration from the University of Texas-Arlington in 1992, a Doctor of Ministry from the United Theological Seminary in 2003 and a diploma from the Naval War College in 2012. A brief foray into parish ministry led him to explore other ministerial options and he eventually connected with Chaplain Charles Tyson. Tyson recruited Stoglin to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), where he ended up serving a long and illustrious career, rising from intern to Department Head of Religious Services. Stoglin became a chaplain in 1984 and retired from the BOP after more than 22 years of service in January 2007. His career wasn’t limited to the BOP, though. Stoglin served in the United States Navy Reserve Chaplain Corps from 1985 to 2013. He attained the rank of Commander and served as Regimental Chaplain to the 14th Marines, the largest artillery command in the United States Marine Corps. He also served as Command Chaplain of the NATO Training Mission- Afghanistan and the Combined Security Training Command – Afghanistan (NTM-A/CSTC-A). “In Afghanistan, my last assignment was Command Chaplain of 39 Nations. I wasn’t there to just do the prayers, I was there to serve as the senior military adviser to a senior general of the Afghanistan National Army and be the top adviser to the commander of NTM-A/CSTC-A,” he says. Stoglin’s list of accolades is long. He has been awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal and two National Defense Service Medals, to name a few. He’s been a recipient of the Ft. Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce MVP award and was named UT-Arlington’s Outstanding African American

UW-River Falls registers second most successful fundraising year in history! Donors respond to pandemic-prompted financial challenges, contribute $2.9 million Responding to the challenges prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic and continuing a legacy of support for UW-River Falls, donors contributed nearly $2.9 million to the UWRiver Falls Foundation during the recently completed 201920 fiscal year. The final total represents the second most successful fundraising year in UWRF history. A record $3.6 million was raised in 2016-17.

Alumnus. The city of Arlington, Texas, declared May 7, 2019, as “Chaplain Rich Stoglin Day” to honor his military and community service. His journey, and many accomplishments along the way, could easily fill a book, or two. He’s working on that, having written a manuscript combining his memoirs and experience in Afghanistan. In addition to his book, Stoglin keeps busy with his consulting group, The Stoglin Group; is a licensed family and marriage therapist; is a governor appointee to the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists; and is active in a variety of organizations.

“The outpouring of support serves as a testimony to our donors’ commitment to the UWRF’s students, faculty, programs and mission,” said Rick Foy, assistant chancellor for University Advancement. “COVID-19’s impact has been felt by all of us, and during these difficult times, our donors generously responded. They made a difference when it was needed most – and it’s greatly appreciated by all of us at UWRF.” Addressing student financial challenges prompted by COVID-19, donors contributed more than $50,000 to a Student Emergency Fund, far surpassing the initial goal of $25,000. Gifts to the fund helped students deal with job loss and cover the costs of rent, utilities, medical and dental expenses and educational-related expenses to facilitate remote learning. Among the fundraising year’s other highlights were:

Stoglin has worked and traveled around the globe, lived in 11 states and moved nearly three dozen times. He wouldn’t be where he is now though without recognizing the impact of his education.

• A gift of $719,325 from the estate of Michael and Jessina Dineen to establish an endowed scholarship fund for students studying conservation and environmental planning, crop and soil science, environmental science, geology or horticulture.

“I think about those days [at UWRF]. It was a great foundation. I was blessed to have professors there to really steer me and encourage me to continue my education and study of history,” he recalls.

• A $350,000 gift from Grassland Dairy for UWRF’s Dairy Pilot Plant renovation project. Grassland’s total commitment to the project is $525,000. • Completion of a $130,000 campaign to rename the Office of International Education in honor of Professor Robert “Doc” Bailey and establish an endowed fund for international study scholarships.

The list of what Stoglin has accomplished and experienced in his life is long, so long a multihour conversation only begins to touch on them, yet when asked what he’s most proud of, he’s very quick to answer.

• Naming Falcon Center office and meeting rooms to honor key UWRF staff Connie Foster, Mike Davis, Gary Eloranta and Byron James. The effort has raised nearly $60,000.

“I finished college,” he says. “I broke the cycle and the assumption that poverty can’t be broken.”

• Secured a matching gift from SPIE, the professional society for optics and photonics, to establish a $100,000 endowment to provide UWRF physics students research experiences. Submitted photos

Tax deductible contributions to the UWRF Foundation may be made to support the university’s students, programs and projects at FALCON FEATURES FALL 2020 25

alma matters Class Notes. Weddings. Future Falcons. Falcon Farewell.

UW-River Falls to launch fundraising effort to help meet immediate financial needs In a strategic effort to help UW-River Falls meet the financial challenges prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic and unexpected budget constraints, UWRF will soon launch a concerted fundraising campaign to help meet its most pressing needs. The three-year campaign, Falcons Forward: Together We Soar, has established a goal of $7.5 million and will serve as the initial phase of the university’s comprehensive campaign in conjunction with UWRF’s sesquicentennial in 2024. The campaign will allow UWRF alumni and friends an opportunity to support a variety of initiatives which impact the student experience. One priority, the Falcon Annual Fund, is unrestricted and allows UWRF leadership the flexibility to prioritize resources for the university’s most critical needs. Gifts to the Falcon Annual Fund provide immediate impact when and where it’s needed most,” said UWRF Interim Chancellor Connie Foster. “We appreciate alumni and donors’ thoughtful consideration of meaningful support of the Annual Fund and other university priorities during this unprecedented time in UWRF history. The campaign also encourages support of: • College priorities – Each of UWRF’s four colleges has its own Fund for Excellence which allows college leadership to address department needs so the university maintains its tradition of student-centered learning, the hallmark of a UWRF experience; • Falcon Scholars – UWRF’s signature scholarship program provides financial support based on academic achievement and leadership; • Annual and endowed scholarships – Provides students with critical financial resources and access to educational opportunities; • Student Emergency Fund – Helps students weather the financial challenges prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic or any other unexpected emergencies; • Planned giving – A planned gift offers donors the opportunity to leave a meaningful and lasting legacy to UWRF. Sometimes the easiest way to leave a gift to UWRF is through a donor’s estate. Tax deductible contributions to the UWRF Foundation may be made to support the university’s students, colleges, programs and projects at

Rick Foy, Assistant Chancellor, University Advancement

Class Notes

Note: Cities listed without a state are in Wisconsin.

1960 Richard ‘Dick’ Peterson, 1964 recently received the Melba Newell Phillips Medal from the American Association of Physics Teachers. Linda Adam Johnson, 1969 and her husband, Brad, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in June.

1970 Bruce Kraus, 1970 was honored by his fellow staff at Prairie Ridge Health in Columbus for 40 years of service. Kathleen Gorzalski Baker, 1975 has retired from 3M after 24 years. Stanley Zweifel, 1975 will return to UW-Whitewater to coach football. Zweifel was the offensive coordinator for UWWhitewater from 1990 to 2006, when he left to be head coach at the University of Dubuque. Zweifel has been coaching football since he graduated and is eager to return to Whitewater. Jim Bylsma, 1976 won his 250th game as head coach of the Hilltoppers, the Cambria-Friesland High School team in Cambria, on Sept. 6. Bylsma’s teams have 15 conference titles, have been a Division VI runner-up, and Division VII state champions. David Frisinger, 1976 has retired from the Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia Beach after 28 years. He spent the last 20 years as a member of the TV production crew. He is looking forward to once again pursuing woodworking and acting work in theater, film, and television. John Rheinberger, 1977 was named Outstanding Senior Citizen at the Washington County Fair in July 2019 and won the Runner-Up Outstanding Senior Citizen Award at the 2019 Minnesota State Fair. George Ouimette Jr., 1977 has his ceramic sculptures showcased at Idea Gallery, a visionary gallery of contemporary art in Western Jacksonport. “George’s work is literally visionary… On his walks, he picks up branches and formulates his ceramics and glazes around the characteristics of the natural flow and coloration of the wood,” wrote Gallery Director Dan Cross. Jeffrey Thiel, 1977 is vice president of operations at JenaValve Technology, Inc. He started his medical


Find out the latest news from your classmates—career changes, recent honors, retirements and more.

device career with St. Jude Medical where he successfully transferred the company’s mechanical valve production from St. Paul, Minn., to Puerto Rico. He has more than 30 years of operations and executive leadership experience in medical devices, primarily with venture-backed emerging growth medical device companies. Karen Peterson Johnson, 1978 recently retired from teaching in the Siren School District and has moved back to her hometown of Luck.

1980 Melanie Miller, 1978, 1985 is a 2019 inductee of the Barron Golden Bears Reaching Dreams Hall of Fame. She was one of three inductees chosen for their accomplished academic and professional careers during and after high school. While at Barron High School, Miller won eight varsity letters and captured state championships in shot put and discus. She also served as president of the Barron County Junior 4-H. During her career, she worked with the UW-Extension and 4-H Youth Development programs. In 2016, Miller was inducted into the Wisconsin 4-H Hall of Fame in recognition of her professional accomplishments and lifetime commitment to 4-H. Brad Hewitt, 1982 has been named chairman of the Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors. Hewitt has served on the board since Nov. 2012, including service as board secretary, board treasurer and most recently as co-vice chair of the board. He will serve a twoyear term as board chair. Stephen T’Kach, 1982 is retiring from the St. Croix County Government Center. His career began at the St. Croix County 911 Center. He also worked in Washington, D.C. for 22 years and became the second person ever to lead the Witness Security Program while also working with the FBI Lab Task Force, the Aviation Security Committee, and Interpol. In 2016, he returned to the 911 center as department director. He’s not sure what the future holds but knows it’s too soon to slow down. Jerry Wendt, 1982 was inducted into the Wisconsin Future Farmers of America (FFA) Hall of Fame. He taught agriculture education for 32 years where he challenged students to do their best, to participate in activities and apply what they learned toward their future success. Because of this attitude, he had numerous students recognized for their accomplishments and in addition, he too, was recognized at local, state and national levels. Only three individuals per year are awarded this honor.

Richard Jensen, 1983 was recently named SVP, Commercial Relationship Manager for Axiom Bank in Tampa, Fla. Richard Lee, 1983 is the executive director of the Central Minnesota Mental Health Center. Dr. Lee recently accepted the Sartell Chamber of Commerce Choice Large Business Award on his center’s behalf. Matthew “Mogey” McDonough, 1983 was interim principal at Hudson High School for the 2019-20 school year. After graduating from UWRF, McDonough worked as a middle school and high school teacher for 10 years and then was principal for the School District of Cadott for 20 years before retiring. Tim Lambrecht, 1985 is the director of education for Budget Challenge, a financial literacy program used by more than 750,000 students in all 50 states. Charlie Snyder, 1986 is the director of PR, marketing, and communications of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Wanda Wells, 1986 recently retired after 34 years of teaching in the Baldwin-Woodville School District. Margaret Gruba, 1988 is a middle school special education teacher associate at Carroll Middle School, Carroll, Iowa. Hope Nadeau, 1988 has retired from the New Richmond School District after 33 years. Her teaching career began in special services at St. Michael-Albertville where she taught for two years before continuing her work in special services in New Richmond. She spent 16 more years in special education with elementary and middle schoolers and then taught fifth grade for one year and fourth grade for 16 years. She plans to spend time with her grandkids and do some volunteering. Timothy Schneider, 1988 is co-chair of New North, Inc. He has more than 30 years of experience in banking, having founded Investors Community Bank 23 years ago, along with three others. Jim Kroening, 1989 is president of FamilyMeans in Stillwater, Minn.

1990 Barbara Fuchs, 1990 is senior vice president of data management at CopperPoint. She also serves as the business lead for the company’s Enterprise Data Warehouse Program.

Paul Uhren, 1990/1994 is principal of South Middle School in Eau Claire. He was previously the superintendent of the Ladysmith School District where he had worked since 2015. Kimberly Kessler, 1992 spent time studying Borneo’s primate denizens, including the orangutan, and developed new ways to engage communities worldwide in primate conservation in Borneo. Gail Roubinek, 1992 is assistant farm curator at the Minnesota Zoological Garden in Apple Valley, Minn. Karl Schilling, 1992 and his wife, Jena, were named the September 2019 Entrepreneurs of the Month by the NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center and the North Iowa Area SBDC for their business, Kaleidoscopes to You. The business is familyowned and located in Manly, Iowa. Barry Ausen, 1993 is serving as the 2020 Potentate of the St. Croix Valley Shrine Club, Zor Shriners. Mark Kinders, 1994 recently retired after 35 years in public higher education. He was vice president for public affairs at the University of Central Oklahoma, serving Oklahoma City. He was the director of public affairs at UWRF from 1985-2008. Todd Nemitz, 1994 is a mortgage loan officer and account manager for third-party originations at New Market Bank, a family-owned community bank. He is licensed by the nationwide Mortgage Licensing System. Chris Ratzloff, 1994 is the second head coach for the Rochester Grizzlies Junior Hockey Team. Prior to the new role, Ratzloff coached the Rochester Lourdes girls high school hockey team for 10 years. Martin Tiede, 1994 is commander of the River Falls American Legion Post 121. He served in the Army from 1983 to 1996 and has been a member of Post 121 for 15 years. Craig Arenson, 1996 has joined Honeybear Brands as their business development director. “I have always had a passion for the food industry,” said Arneson. “As the population grows and the farmland shrinks, it’s important to add value to the equation. This position allows me to join a fast-moving production agriculture company and work closely with all members of the food chain to add that value.”



alma matters Scott Bleck, 1996 is the superintendent for the New London School District. He says “I feel especially honored to be able to contribute to the community that did so much for me. I believe I am here for a reason. I believe in helping create opportunities and choices for our greatest resource (the children of our school community).” Craig Snarnow, 1996 was promoted to captain with the Milwaukee Police Department. He has been with the organization since 1998. Toby Carley, 1997 is the athletic director and at-risk coordinator at Luck High School. Carley has taught elementary school at the Luck School District for 21 years and has coached football, wrestling, and track. Elizabeth Erickson, 1997/2001 has retired from the New Richmond School District after 21 years. She began her teaching career as a Title 1 teacher before transitioning to fourth grade and then fifth grade. She plans to do some traveling, spend time with family, work on hobbies and get more involved with the Spring Valley Community Theater and her church. Timothy Nerud, 1997 was named pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Geneseo, Ill., after serving as pastor at Concordia Lutheran Church for nearly 14 years. Aliesha Crowe, 1998/2004 is vice president of College Advancement at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Green Bay. Nicole Fennern, 1998 is vice president of enrollment and marketing at Judson University, Elgin, Ill. She has worked in higher education for more than 20 years in positions including executive officer, enrollment officer, athletic director, and coach. Aaron Polkoski, 1998 is regional vice president at MATRIX Group Benefits where he will specialize in risk management and loss insurance. Jesse Singerhouse, 1998, 2007 is general manager and CEO of Dunn Energy Cooperative in Menomonie. Timothy Jax, 1999 is vice-president of marketing and innovation at Pretzels, Inc. Prior, he was general manager of baked goods and corporate restructuring at TreeHouse Foods and earlier, was general manager of Pretzels. Before joining TreeHouse, Jax spent seven years at ConAgra Foods (now Conagra Brands) in a variety of roles, including senior brand manager of Shultz and private brand pretzels and brand manager of snacks innovation.

2000 TJ Scales Atkins, 2000 is the executive director of The Community Table in Eau Claire. Since 1993, The Community Table



has been nourishing hungry bodies and spirits in the Eau Claire community by serving one meal each day, 365 days a year, on a no-questionsasked basis. Michael Wills, 2000 won at the 2019 48 Minneapolis Hour Film Project with fellow alum Owen Swerkstrom with their short movie, “The Chair.” Their film received “Best Film 1st Place,” “Best Directing,” “Best Editing,” and an honorable mention for the “Audience Award.” Owen Swerkstrom, 2002 won at the 2019 48 Minneapolis Hour Film Project with fellow alum Michael Wills with their short movie “The Chair.” Their film received “Best Film 1st Place,” “Best Directing,” “Best Editing,” and an honorable mention for the “Audience Award.” Susie Olsen Willink, 2002 is a seventh-grade language arts teacher at Viking Middle School in Woodville. Bradley Johnson, 2003 was chosen by GENEX as one of three to oversee their new Beef Team. He and his team members will monitor sales, service, and product development. Lindsey O’Grady Low, 2003 is a program manager at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. Prior to this, she worked at both the UC-Berkeley and UC-LA for 10 years in a variety of positions related to higher education. Chris Tackmann, 2003 is the general manager at Oakdale Electric Cooperative, Tomah. Jeremy Kerg, 2005/2007 has been named the 6-12 primary principal in the Plum City School District. Kerg has experience as a school and career counselor at White Bear Lake, Minn., and Somerset school districts, as well as coaching football at UWRF and taking internships with the Kansas City Chiefs. Jamie Wise McKnight, 2005 is the program manager of Wunderman Thompson in Richfield, Minn. Daniel Schmitt, 2005 and his wife, Katie, welcomed twins Margaret (Maggie) Jean and Francis (Frank) Gregory in 2018. Brooke Selvig Halverson, 2006 is a second grade teacher at Woodland Elementary in Barron. She was previously employed as a substitute in Barron for three years. Dave Westphal, 2006 is the co-owner of True Value Home and Hardware Stories in Mayville and Campbellsport. He has been an employee of True Value since he was a teenager.

Travis Klinkner, 2007 and his wife, Krista, recently received the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Agriculturist Achievement Award. The award honors young farmers who have not only gone above and beyond in their farming career, but who also understand current agricultural issues and have demonstrated leadership in attempt to aid in them. Jennifer Brinks Kirchner, 2008 has received the EMT of the Year Award from the Minnesota Emergency Medical Services Association. Kirchner began as an EMT in April 2010 and was promoted as an ambulance driver in October 2011. Since then, she has become the Murray County ambulance director and has been an active participant in the Toward Zero Deaths Coalition, as well as a Stop the Bleed instructor. Crystal Mathisrud, 2008 is the manager of the Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District. Michael Bremer, 2009 is the executive director of Hastings Community Television. Bremer began working for HCTV as a volunteer intern while studying marketing communications and communications studies at UWRF. He worked his way to being a paid intern, mostly creating news packages. Eleanor Peterson Brinsko, 2009 and her spouse recently welcomed their first son, Peter Nicholas Brinsko. Mark Klapatch, 2009 received the 2019 Academic Staff Excellence Award from the UW System Board of Regents. Award recipients are selected for superior performance resulting in significant contributions to the department and institution; use of positive personal interaction to manage work changes; and a consistently creative approach that improves productivity and work quality. He, along with one other person and one other program, were rewarded this honor. Ashlie Tweed Kneifl, 2009 is a first grade teacher Prairie Farm School District, Prairie Farm. Previously, she was a multi-age 4K and kindergarten teacher at Montessori Children’s House. Kara Berzelius Martin, 2009/2014 is the 2019 Princess of the West Wind of the St. Paul Winter Carnival. Jason Phillippi, 2009 is head men’s and women’s cross-country coach, as well as the assistant coach for the Falcon track and field programs. Prior, he spent nearly six years coaching at the club level for Run4PRs Coaching, Inc. and Lifetime Athletic. He also had served as a high school assistant cross-country and track and field coach for five years.

2010 Nathan Anderson, 2010 is head coach of the Marinette Marines, the high school team in his hometown. He played starting

fullback as a Falcon and became the program’s all-time leading rusher in yards (4,220) and attempts (960). After graduation, he served as the Adam-Friendship High School head football coach for a year before accepting a job as the offensive coordinator for Burnsville (Minn.) High School.

Rocky Larson, 2014 is the head football coach at Mayville State in Mayville, N.D.

Melanie Meyers, 2019 is deputy state director at Trump VictoryMinnesota.

Kayla Pettis Mathson, 2015 married fellow UWRF graduate Michael Mathson (2016) in August 2019.

Samantha Payne, 2019 is a 4-H extension educator for Fillmore County, Minn.

Beth Beckers, 2010 works at Abbott Laboratories in St. Paul, Minn.

Michelle Anderson, 2016 was featured in the Jan. 27 print issue of People Magazine. Her story touches on how her twin sister gave her hope in the hardest of moments.

Connor Ross, 2019 is the head coach for the Woodbury (Minn.) Boys Swimming and Diving Team. He is also an assistant coach for the Park Girls Swimming and Diving Team and a swimming instructor for the South Washington County (Minn.) Public Schools.

Kevin Reese, 2010 received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Only four people from each state are awarded this honor every year. Travis Speirs, 2010 was named Sheboygan’s New Radio March Famer of the Month. Cassandra Campbell, 2011 is an account executive at Blueprint Alaska. Her professional work experience brings unique industry knowledge to the firm after working with Matanuska Electric Association from 201219 and the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Matanuska Susitna College from Jan.-Sept. 2019. Joel Trepczyk, 2011 is the police chief in Somerset. Kelli Gutow, 2013 has earned her MBA from the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Garret Heineck, 2013 is the 2020 recipient of the Musser International Turfgrass Foundation’s Award of Excellence. The award is given to outstanding doctorate candidates who demonstrate overall excellence in turfgrass research.

Benjamin Jansen, 2016 is a management analyst for the City of Amery. He helps get the city budget together and works on new ordinances and updates old ones. He has also done a lot of research into federal and state grants for the city. Michael Mathson, 2016 married fellow UWRF graduate Kayla Pettis in August 2019. Jenn Angell, 2017 will have her art displayed at the rescheduled Big Read in St. Croix Valley. Katie Buria, 2017 is one of five students in the University of Arkansas Master of Athletic Training Program to receive a scholarship named after Razorback Athletic Trainers Dean Weber and Bill Ferrell. Christine Gunderson, 2017 recently started Indie Publishing Company, Dreambuilt Books. She released her 7th children’s book “Lost” in July. Kimberly Stickfort, 2017 is tourism manager at the Menomonie Area Chamber of Commerce.

Alyce Hines, 2013 is working at the Barron Veterinary Clinic, Barron.

Kirstin Knutson, 2018 was crowned Aurora, 2020 Queen of the Snows of the St. Paul Winter Carnival.

Amanda Ryder, 2013 was honored by the Menomonie Youth Hockey Association for her accomplishments in hockey. She is the first female hockey player to receive this honor.

Noah Rogers, 2018 completed his master’s program at American University School of International Service in United States Foreign Policy.

Kathryn Overby Stirling, 2013 married Joshua Stirling in October 2019. Casey Doten, 2014 is head coach for the Purdue Men’s Rugby Team. The team is ranked #28 in the nation and finished the spring season #3 in the Big Ten. Doten began his rugby career when he was a first-year student at UWRF and says it has been a major part of his life since, opening the opportunities that led him to where he is today. Casey Kemper, 2014 recently received the 2019 WAEA Beginning Art Educator of the Year Award. The award recognizes a teacher with fewer than five years of teaching who demonstrates effectiveness in the classroom and in the school community.

Nicole Bos, 2019 is the office coordinator for ASM Global at U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis. Haley Nielsen, 2019 was the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) nominee for the 2019 NCAA Woman of the Year Award. A two-year team captain, she is a three-time All-WIAC first team selection and helped UWRF claim the conference regular-season title all four seasons, as well as the O’Brien Cup in 2016 and 2017. Nielsen is twotime AHCA All-American, securing first team recognition in 2018 and second team status in 2019.

About Alma Matters

Send us your latest news. We will print your notes in the next issue. Here’s how: 1) e-mail or 2) submit a form located on our website at alumni/ and click Update Profile. In the interest of accuracy, encourage classmates to send us their news directly—don’t do it for them. We will not print a death announcement unless accompanied by a copy of a published obituary (such as an announcement from a local newspaper). Questions about Alma Matters may be directed to Kjisa Munson at 715-425-3505 or

Eddie Matsushima, 2019 is a returning player for the Pensacola Ice Flyers.



alma matters Falcon Farewell 1930 Vivian Huitfeldt, ‘37, died Oct. 28, 2019. Edna Moline Thomas, ‘38, died April 8, 2020.

1940 Doris Wallin Erickson, ‘40, died June 24, 2019. Kenneth Johnson, ‘41, died May 15, 2015. Jean Cornwall Stary, ‘41, died Oct. 20, 2019. George Chipman, ‘42, died July 18, 2019. Constance Kerg Oebser, ‘42, died Aug. 21, 2019. Phyllis Jayne Gibson, ‘45, died Dec. 4, 2019. Norma Larson Johnson, ‘45, died May 22, 2020. Vera Erdmann, ‘47, died June 27, 2019. James Redmond, ‘47, died Nov. 13, 2019. Dorothy Jennings Webster, ‘47, died Jan. 29, 2020. Dolores Payson Dahl, ‘48, died Nov. 15, 2017. Delbert Soholt, ‘48, died April 6, 2020. Lois Brandt Clymer, ‘49, died Sept. 22, 2019. Margaret Reiss Johnson, ‘49, died April 12, 2020.

1950 Glen Ausen, ‘50, died Sept. 4, 2019.

Jean Dawson Benson, ‘50, died July 1, 2019. Lloyd Coburn, ‘50, died July 7, 2019. Mary Wood Johnson, ‘50, died Sept. 16, 2017. Duane Rivard, ‘50, died Sept. 11, 2019. Lois Sorensen Sargent, ‘50, died April 17, 2020. Paul Sylla, ‘50, died Dec. 31, 2014. Patricia Bladl Koplitz, ‘51, died Dec. 23, 2019. Norma Julian Mogan, ‘51, died Oct. 4, 2019. Phyllis Wurtz Most, ‘51, died March 1, 2020. Laverne Palmberg, ‘51, died Sept. 7, 2019. Marjorie Smith, ‘51, died July 18, 2019. Patricia Greenfield Westby, ‘51 died Aug 3, 2020 William Collins, ‘52, died July 21, 2019. Alfred Eystad, ‘52, died Dec. 25, 2019 Daisy Boe Hilbert, ‘53, died Dec. 11, 2019 Duane Westerberg, ’53, died Feb. 28, 2020. Joyce Jacobson Paulson, ‘54, died Dec. 21, 2019. Lila Hofacker Bates, ‘55, died Oct. 22, 2019. Henry Beyer, ‘55, died July 30, 2019. Duane Butler, ‘55, died Dec. 20, 2019. Edward Jankus, ‘55, died Sept. 19, 2019.

Gerald Johnson, ‘55, died April 17, 2020. Allan Kind, ‘55, died April 16, 2020. Frank Kuzner, ‘55, died June 22, 2019. James Tilly, ‘55, died May 29, 2020. Herbert Voss, ‘55, died April 10, 2019. Calvin Langer, ‘56, died April 22, 2020. Bernard Schatz, ‘56, died Oct. 1, 2019. Elizabeth Degidio Charron, ‘57, died Dec. 11, 2019. Rudolph Geimer, ‘57, died July 26, 2019. Roger Hanson, ‘57, died Dec. 16, 2019. Robert Schillberg, ‘57, died Aug. 15, 2019. Vernon Stone, ‘57, died Dec. 6, 2019. Lavonne Safe Ellingson, ‘58, died Nov. 23, 2019. Robert Koplin, ‘58, died June 5, 2020. Leroy Segerstrom, ‘58, died April 30, 2020. James Tostrud, ‘58, died June 28, 2019. Mary Dougherty, ‘59, died Sept. 21, 2019. Eugene Johnson, ‘59, died Sept. 13, 2019. Francis Peichel, ‘59, died May 10, 2020. Thomas Pfaff, ‘59, died Dec. 7, 2019.

Richard Pudas, ‘59, died Sept. 20, 2019. Terrance Shelstad, ‘59, died Nov. 11, 2019. Walter Skroch, ‘59, died June 13, 2020. Donald Waalen, ‘59, died April 2, 2020. Richard Wood, ‘59, died Nov. 16, 2016. Raymond Anderson, ‘60, died Oct. 17, 2019.

1960 Michael Cotter, ‘60, died April 16, 2020. William Finlan, ‘60, died July 21, 2019. Allen Hangartner, ‘60, died Nov. 13, 2019. Lyle Hofacker, ‘60, died Aug. 11, 2019. Donald Holmberg, ‘60, died April 8, 2020. Georgia Bosman Kelm, ‘60, died Aug. 6, 2019. June Bergstrom Micheels, ‘60, died Jan. 15, 2020. Dale Hangartner, ‘61, died Jan. 5, 2020. Margie Dahms Miller, ‘61, died Jan. 7, 2020. Joseph Neubauer, ‘61, died Oct. 5, 2019. John Rassbach, ‘61, died April 9, 2020. Robert Agranoff, ‘62, died Nov. 14, 2019. William Bethke, ‘62, died Dec. 15, 2019.

Darryl Derricks, ‘62, died Aug. 6, 2019. Joanna Paulson Falkofske, ‘62, died July 20, 2019. Norma Holdt Fish, ‘62, died May 22, 2020. Earl Kammerud, ‘62, died Sept. 25, 2019. Pauline Knieff Klein, ‘62, died Jan. 23, 2020. Robert Meiers, ‘62, died July 8, 2019. Robert Nelson, ‘62, died Sept. 28, 2019. Gustav Peterson, ‘62, died June 11, 2019. Muriel Hanson Chadwick Frost Jeffery, ‘63, died April 18, 2020. Marlin Klatt, ‘63, died May 11, 2020. Edith Reed Nelson, ‘63, died Oct. 1, 2019. Gary Burke, ‘64, died Oct. 20, 2019. Joanette Fellman Coogan, ‘64, died Aug. 1, 2016. Gary Lenselink, ‘64, died June 16, 2020. Margaret Schroll Lindell, ‘64, died May 28, 2019. Michael Wiskerchen, ‘64, died Dec. 1, 2019. Daniel Barron, ‘65, died Feb. 12, 2020. Daniel Ekstrom, ‘65, died Nov. 10, 2019. David Henderson, ‘65, died Nov. 18, 2019.

FALCON ANNUAL FUND Each year UW-River Falls reaches out to our alumni and friends via mail, phone and text and ask for a gift to the FALCON ANNUAL FUND. You may think this year is no different, but it is. The ramifications of COVID-19 on our campus will have lasting effects for years to come. As proud Falcons, together we rise. Now is the time to support UW-River Falls like never before. Many of you designate your contribution to a preferred fund. We understand, it is important to you. This year, we ask that you consider making an additional gift, no matter the size, to support your university through the Falcon Annual Fund. Why the Falcon Annual Fund? • Your contribution gives UWRF leadership the flexibility to address the most pressing and critical needs. • Falcon Annual Fund support will have immediate impact. • What can your contribution do? Everything and anything. Follow this link today!


The Benefits of a

Charitable Bequest A charitable bequest is an easy way to help future generations of UWRF students.

Benefits of bequest giving include: • It costs you nothing today to make a bequest. • A bequest is free of federal estate tax. • Your bequest can be changed down the road. • You can still benefit your heirs with specific gifts. • A bequest may produce estate tax savings. • You can leave a legacy through a bequest.

To learn more about bequest giving to UWRF, contact Kimberly Gould Speckman at 715-425-4212 or Ask for your free Guide to Planning Your Will or Trust. We are happy to assist you! Dennis Johnson, ‘65, died Aug. 17, 2019. Ronald Nordstrand, ‘65, died April 12, 2019. Henry Truog, ‘65, died Nov. 25, 2019. Terence Hess, ‘66, died Oct. 17, 2019. Cheryl O’Flanagan Johnson, ‘66, died Jan. 2, 2020. Larry Johnson, ‘66, died Dec. 11, 2019. John Laakso, ‘66, died April 7, 2020. Robert Linaberry, ‘66, died Jan. 5, 2020. Jon McGregor, ‘66, died Aug. 17, 2019. Larry Pasanen, ‘66, died Aug. 1, 2019. Robert Swanson, ‘66, died June 12, 2020. Roger Bartlett, ‘67, died June 1, 2020. Victor Bula, ‘67, died Nov. 7, 2019. Louis Hjort, ‘67, died Dec. 4, 2019. Joseph Jilek, ‘67, died Jan. 31, 2020. David Magnuson, ‘67, died Dec. 25, 2019. Melvin Peterson, ‘67, died May 4, 2020. Paul Streif, ‘67, died July 3, 2019. Edward Herbert, ‘68, died Dec. 3, 2019. Beverly Bonn Jonnes, ‘68, died Oct. 6, 2019. Monica Cloutier, ‘69, died April 5, 2020.

Maren Hardin Gebhard, ‘69, died Feb. 24, 2020. Robert Jacobs, ‘69, died July 15, 2019. Kathleen Peloquin Larson, ‘69, died July 19, 2019. Paul Maloney, ‘69, died Sept. 24, 2019. Jack Neurer, ‘69, died Dec. 11, 2019.

1970 John Linehan Sr., ‘70, died June 1, 2020. Benhardt Meents Sr., ‘70, died May 9, 2019. Barbara Edlund Olson, ‘70, died Dec. 11, 2019. David Rosga, ‘70, died Dec. 22, 2019. Wayne Wedepohl, ‘70, died Nov. 28, 2019. Stephen Barrett, ‘71, died Nov. 3, 2019. Hazel Lund Kromrey, ‘71, died Dec. 7, 2019. Don Leibelt, ‘71, died Sept. 26, 2019. Daniel Maloney, ‘71, died Dec. 26, 2019. Sheila Spitzer Olson, ‘71, died Feb. 26, 2020. Lola Wolter, ‘71, died Sept. 16, 2019. John Desantis, ‘72, died Jan. 1, 2020. Curtis Gerken, ‘72, died April 25, 2020. Marie Tschumperlin Helmueller, ‘72, died Jan. 20, 2020. Lee McRoberts, ‘72, died Oct. 20, 2019.

Dennis Drury, ‘73, died Feb. 24, 2020. Phoebe Knutson, ‘73, died Dec. 6, 2019. William Krubsack, ‘73, died Oct. 4, 2019. Kenneth Schlueter, ‘73, died Dec. 14, 2019. Darryl Siebold, ‘73, died Jan. 1, 2020. Joyce Elstad Waslie, ‘73, died Jan. 22, 2020. Barbara Wiff, ‘73, died July 12, 2019. Gerald Greupner, ‘74, died Aug. 10, 2019. John Husby, ‘74, died Aug. 20, 2019. Samuel Jentzsch, ‘74, died Oct. 4, 2019. David Keuler, ‘74, died April 29, 2020. Joan Kremer, ‘74, died Oct. 8, 2014. Raymond Nelson, ‘74, died Feb. 12, 2020. Mark Peterson, ‘74, died May 21, 2020. Gary Jacobson, ‘75, died April 29, 2020. Lois Karnick Wagner, ‘75, died Dec. 22, 2019. Roberta Schlough Wunrow, ‘75, died Aug. 1, 2019. Richard Burhite, ‘76, died April 28, 2020. Julie Sempf Cole, ‘76, died Feb. 4, 2020. Carrie Harper, ‘77, died Dec. 12, 2019. Gregory Kinsman, ‘77, died Oct. 24, 2019.

Lorelei Green, ‘78, died Aug. 25, 2019. Gary Lovell, ‘78, died July 1, 2019. Janell Berset Ahlin, ‘79, died July 11, 2019. Richard Carlson, ‘79, died Dec. 16, 2019. Doris Nordquist, ‘79, died Feb. 25, 2020. Jill Werbeckes, ‘79, died May 24, 2020.

1980 Janet Born, ‘80, died Oct. 18, 2019. Steven Baneck, ‘81, died May 11, 2020. James Gay, ‘81, died May 30, 2019. Douglas Hearley, ‘82, died March 30, 2020. James Colvard, ‘85, died July 7, 2019. Jeffrey Kizlik, ‘85, died June 8, 2019. Paul Rebholz, ’86, died Aug. 12, 2020 Allan Cowles, ‘87, died April 4, 2020. Carol Lee Lindquist, ‘87, died Sept. 24, 2017. Janice Warren, ‘87, died Feb. 3, 2020. Roger Johnson, ‘89, died Jan. 15, 2020. Bradford Matson, ‘89, died Aug. 16, 2019.

1990 Elizabeth Kaufman, ‘90, died Dec. 23, 2019. Meriel Nielsen Monical, ‘90, died May 23, 2020.

Karen Urli Antin, ‘91, died Aug. 14, 2019. Julia DeMeritt Duprey, ‘91, died Jan. 10, 2020. Joseph Streeck, ‘92, died May 11, 2020. Steven Brinkman, ‘93, died March 7, 2016. John Flavin, ‘93, died July 4, 2019. Michael Jacobson, ‘93, died Aug. 30, 2019. Jeanette Nelson, ‘94, died March 7, 2020. Nicole Brenden Hale, ‘95, died March 23, 2020. James Hogan, ‘96, died Jan. 14, 2020. Lisa Dumke Ormson, ‘98, died Feb. 5, 2020.

2000 Matthew Roberts, ‘01, died June 21, 2019. Elizabeth Albrecht, ‘05, died Aug. 4, 2019. Andrew Hartvig, ‘06, died Feb. 1, 2020. Sheila Hubbard Greaser, ‘07, died March 26, 2020. Crystal Helmbolt, ‘07, died April 19, 2019. Brandon DeMotts, ‘08, died June 2, 2020.

Our donor list has moved online. For a full list of our generous donors, visit







Sept. 28 - Oct. 3 Even though we will not be able to meet in person this year, UWRF has a wide variety of virtual events planned to celebrate our Homecoming traditions. Click here to view a full list of the virtual events during Homecoming.

UWRF Alumni and Friends Run/Walk 5k

Get your running shoes on and join fellow alumni in a virtual 5K.  ·  Sign up here ·  Run or walk a 5k the week of Sept. 28 - Oct. 3 in your community. (A 5k is 3.1 miles.)  ·  Send in your timed results and a photo. ·  Enter to win a chance at an alumni giveaway for participation. Results and photo can be emailed to or post as a comment on our 5K Facebook post that week. Good luck, Falcons!  

UWRF Alumni and Friends Yard Work Service Project Grab the rakes and help a neighbor, friend or family member with fall yard work.  · Sign up here ·  Keep track of hours volunteered the week of Sept. 28 - Oct. 3.  ·   Send in your hours and a photo of you working in the yard/garden.  ·   Enter to win a chance at an alumni giveaway for participation.  Hours and photo can be emailed to or post as a comment on our Yard Work Service Project Facebook post that week. 

Letters from Students UWRF students connect with alumni through old fashioned letter writing.

Looking for a Pen Pal? Everyone likes to receive mail! If you know UWRF alumni who would love to receive letters from a current UWRF student, let us know by emailing Please include the person’s name and complete mailing address. • A letter will be sent to the alum within 30 days. • The student may share life stories, hometown, college experiences and education. • A return address will be included for future letter exchanges.

Follow Us!

Alumni Get-Togethers Getting together with Falcon alumni friends for a gettogether or special cause? Let us know ahead of time and we will send a little Falcon swag to help you celebrate. Snap a picture of the gathering, send it to us and you just might end up on our UWRF Alumni Facebook page.

For additional event information, contact University Advancement at 877-258-6647 (toll free),, or visit

Profile for University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Falcon Features Fall 2020  

UWRF Alumni Magazine

Falcon Features Fall 2020  

UWRF Alumni Magazine

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded