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Fall 2019


Community Service Through



in this issue

A new gateway PROFile Smits hearing the call............................... 8

Building Community Giving is receiving........................................ 10

Perkins Dedication Fielding the love. ...................................... 20

Richard Swensen The passing of a UWRF inspiration........... 29

Sections Up Front...............................................4 Along the South Fork....................... 5 Falcon Sports................................... 20 Alma Matters.....................................24



to campus 6th Street Gateway Designed in conjunction with the renovation of Rodli Hall, the 6th Street Gateway creates a more visible and distinctive entry to the east end of the UWRF campus mall area. To ensure safety and improve traffic flow on 6th street, one crosswalk was removed and the sidewalk to Centennial Science Hall was reconfigured to route pedestrians to a nearby crosswalk. Four-way stop signs were installed at the Wild Rose Avenue intersection. The gateway will become the primary starting point for prospective students and families as they visit campus.



up front With Chancellor Dean Van Galen

FALCON FEATURES Volume 67, Fall 2019 University of Wisconsin-River Falls 410 S. 3rd St. River Falls, WI 54022 715-425-3505 or 1-877-258-6647 falconfeatures@uwrf.edu www.uwrf.edu/alumni

Chancellor Dean Van Galen hones his pottery making skills with help from Matt Wilhelm, senior ceramics student, in advance of the 2019 Bowls for Hope event.

During my decade serving as Chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, I have so often been amazed at the dedication and work of our students, faculty and staff. Our faculty and staff are uncommonly dedicated to our educational mission and the success of our students. Our students come to us with great potential and contribute to building the strong sense of community that has always been a hallmark of UWRF. In this issue you will see numerous examples of this dedication and sense of community. We remember Professor Emeritus Richard “Dick” Swensen—a beloved professor and campus leader, part of whose legacy is grounded in a fundamental strength of our campus – global education. You will also learn about how UWRF is making an even stronger commitment to student success, catalyzed by the complete renovation of David Rodli Hall. Thanks to this $15.1 million project, in 2020 all the right resources to help our students succeed and thrive will be under one roof. In this issue, we also celebrate the enduring passion of Dr. Faye Perkins, a one-of-a-kind



educator and coach who valued the success of her student-athletes even more than wins on the field! This issue documents the impact students, alumni, faculty and staff are making in communities near and far. You will read stories of volunteerism, generosity and kindness. You will read about fellow alumni who helped shape a vision for community service and others who work to combat hunger and homelessness. You will see service above self, defined in unique and different ways. Great universities both honor their history and roots and innovate and change to meet tomorrow’s needs. Thanks in part to the support of our alumni and friends, this is what we are doing at UW-River Falls. We look forward with optimism, knowing that public higher education has never been more important to the future of our students, region, and world.

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.

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 Kathy M Helgeson Rachel Paulus John Pesavent Graphic Design and Illustration Karen Zander

Postmaster: Send form 3579 to Falcon Features, University of Wisconsin-River Falls, River Falls, WI 54022. Dean Van Galen, Chancellor

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

UWRF growing programs and degrees New specialized master of business administration [MBA] tracks in innovation, leadership and agribusiness are now available through the College of Business and Economics allowing graduate students to customize their MBA program based on specific career goals. The three new tracks are available beginning this semester and are tailored for working students with evening classes offered at the UW-River Falls Hudson Center. Officials from UW-River Falls and the River Falls School District met May 9 to sign an agreement that offers River Falls High School students the opportunity to take UWRF courses at the high school beginning this fall.

College bound high school students invest in their future High school students in River Falls can earn college credit without ever stepping onto the UW-River Falls campus. A groundbreaking dual credit agreement with the River Falls School District offers students the chance to take approved UW courses that will count toward both high school and university requirements. Courses will be taught at the River Falls High School by teachers with master’s degrees. Initially, qualified students will be offered math and English courses. The dual credit program is designed to be an affordable investment for students interested in banking college credits and experiencing the rigor and personal responsibility that are crucial to success in college.

Lafferty gift, a lasting legacy A generous gift from alumnus Wayne Lafferty will create a permanent endowment supporting student scholarships. The Wayne N. Lafferty Scholarship Fund will provide approximately $17,500 annually in scholarship support based on student financial need. Lafferty, of Coronado, Calif., graduated with a degree in elementary education and was a dedicated educator, teaching fourth grade students for more than 30 years. In retirement, Lafferty enjoyed volunteering and traveling and was an advocate for education. “We are fortunate to have alumni like Wayne who benefited first hand from a UW-River Falls education and who made provisions to leave a lasting legacy at the university,” said Assistant Chancellor of University Advancement Rick Foy.

Beginning with the academic year 2020-21, a bachelor’s degree in biomedical and health science and a master’s degree in strength and conditioning will be available for UWRF students.

Athletics earns NCAA Diversity and Inclusion Award The UWRF Athletics Department earned the NCAA and Minority Opportunities Athletic Association’s (MOAA) 2019 Award for Diversity and Inclusion. The award is a partnership between the two organizations to recognize and celebrate the practices, programs and policies of NCAA colleges, universities and athletics conference offices that embrace diversity and inclusion. Schools have been recognized for their professional development programs that help educate staff and student-athletes about inclusive practices; community outreach as it relates to diversity; and efforts that enhance opportunities for people of diverse cultures, backgrounds and experiences. There are over 1,100 eligible institutions in the NCAA. UWRF is the only D3 university to receive the award since its inception in 2013.

For more information, contact Foy at 715-425-4291 or richard.foy@uwrf.edu. FALCON FEATURES FALL 2019


along the south fork

Left to right, Lamah Bility, Temitope Abiodun, Chancellor Dean Van Galen, Soobin Lee, Caleb Rossin, Michelle Stage, and Alison Slaughterr.

Zierath awarded honorary degree

Students honored with Chancellor’s Award Six UW-River Falls students were honored with the 2019 Chancellor’s Award this spring. Recipients were Lamah Bility, marketing communications major; Temitope Abiodun, psychology major; Soobin Lee, marketing communications major; Caleb Rossin, biology major; Michelle Stage, psychology major; and Alison Slaughter, sociology major.

Globally-recognized research scientist Juleen Zierath was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree during spring commencement.

“At this point in your life, it is impossible for you to know the journey that lies ahead of you,” said Chancellor Dean Van Galen during the ceremony. “I am certain that you will distinguish yourselves, and thereby the university, in unique and important ways as a result of your diligence and commitment to leadership and service.”

Following her graduation from UWRiver Falls in 1984, Zierath went on to complete a Ph.D. in physiology from the Karolinska lnstitutet in Stockholm, Sweden, and conducted post-doctoral research at Harvard Medical School. Zierath has returned to UW-River Falls numerous times to interact with faculty and students and has hosted UWRF students and faculty in her research laboratory in Sweden, providing them with unique research experiences in an international setting. “Being in the teacher education program at UW-River Falls taught me to be a professional,” said Zierath. “I learned that the decisions I made impacted many different things in life, including how I could make a difference in the world.”



First presented in 1980, the Chancellor’s Award for Students recognizes students who have demonstrated a commitment to leadership, excellence, and service, both on campus and in the community.

UWRF reaccredited by Higher Learning Commission

The status of UWRF as an accredited institution of higher education has been reaffirmed by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Accreditation is a process used to evaluate the quality of post-secondary educational institutions and to ensure certain standards are met.  Aligned with its mission, UW-River Falls chose “Comprehensive Internationalization” as its quality initiative. The commission’s review was very positive and accepted the report as a genuine effort to internationalize the institution, stating, “It is clear that UW-River Falls has created a lasting change in the campus culture by thoroughly integrating internationalization into the fabric of the campus.”

Science and Technology Innovation Center receives planning and design funding The next phase of planning and design of the university’s Science and Technology Innovation Center (SciTech) will advance with a $2 million allocation of state funding. This amount will be sufficient for UW-River Falls to reach a critical stage of the design process over the next two years and will help the campus plan for obtaining construction funds from the state, hopefully in the next biennial budget, as well as garnering private philanthropic support for the innovative facility. About the Science and Technology Innovation Center The proposed SciTech project would house the departments of biology, chemistry, physics, and psychology/neuroscience providing modern laboratory spaces for instruction and undergraduate research to meet industry demands in STEM fields. In line with UWRF’s commitment to innovation and partnerships, SciTech would also include a university-business collaboration hub to support internships and incubation of joint research projects. The facility will play a vital role in supporting economic growth in Western Wisconsin by fostering collaboration between faculty, students and regional businesses.

Dairy Innovation Hub to support ag In addition to planning funds for the science and technology building, an infusion of state resources is being directed toward agriculture. Nearly $9 million was included in the FY19-21 biennial budget for a Dairy Innovation Hub, representing a significant increase in state funding for agricultural research. The allocation will provide base funding increases for research and development in dairy science and related disciplines at UW-River Falls, UW-Madison, UW-Platteville. In addition to engaging in cutting edge research, faculty and staff in the UW System’s three colleges of agriculture teach the next generation of producers and allied industry personnel the newest production and management strategies. They provide meaningful hands-on opportunities for students, including international exposure to the global marketplace. The funding supports faculty, post doc and graduate student positions as well as provides other resources in four areas related to the dairy industry that each span many academic departments at the three universities: • stewarding land and water resources • enriching human health and nutrition • ensuring animal health and welfare • growing farm businesses and communities Advocates of the Dairy Innovation Hub say the state’s reinvestment in agriculture will generate vital new research activity by attracting the world’s best talent to Wisconsin and provide the tools and resources for making important new discoveries.




PROFile Sarah Smits Associate Clinical Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders



Connecting is key By Kelsea Wissing After spending two years as a student at UW-River Falls, Sarah Smits found herself having a “mid-college crisis,” as she calls it, as she struggled with her future career options. Although she had a natural knack for her major – she had chosen math - Smits failed to find the passion she was looking for in her future field. A discussion with her parents led to a sit down with UWRF’s academic catalog, where she says she literally went down the list and crossed off majors that didn’t click with her before coming across one that stuck out. “It was called communicative disorders at the time. I circled it because I wondered what it was. I looked up the classes, thought it seemed cool,” she explained. “My plan was to go talk to someone in the department first.” That first conversation just happened to be with Professor William Larsen. According to Smits, she met with Larsen to speak about the program. During the conversation, Larsen invited Smits to join his articulation class despite her lack of experience in the program. “I did not turn back from this field after that. I enjoyed it so much,” she said. “I made a random appointment on a random day, walked into his office and he was willing to say ‘come in and try this’ and I found what I loved. He could have just as well said ‘you’ll have to wait until next year to start the program’ and he probably would have lost me.” After earning her graduate degree from UWRF in 1995, Smits found her way back to campus and has been teaching ever since. She works as a associate clinical professor in the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department. For her, much of the draw lies in the ability to connect with people. “The biggest thing for me [when deciding to teach] was the relationships with people. That seems to be a theme throughout not only my education, but my teaching,” she said. “You have a much different approach if you get to know who you’re teaching to or who you’re helping. That’s something that lured me into it.” During her career, Smits has developed a passion for clinical teaching and has been honored by the Wisconsin Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Association for her outstanding service achievements. Her work includes outreach through the university’s Speech-Language & Hearing Clinic. The clinic serves 80-90 clients a week and offers UWRF students hands-on experience as they work towards their degrees. Smits has also worked to get her students involved with the local service organization “Among Friends,” a program that provides respite care for adults with physical frailties or memory loss. Smits’ chosen discipline is a service-oriented one and as she talks about her students and her work as an educator, it makes sense that she found her niche in such a field. She credits Larsen for taking a chance on her when she walked into his office and then continued to mentor her for many years and it is obvious Smits pays it forward with her support for her students. “I really enjoy seeing students find something in themselves they didn’t think they had. I feel like the cheerleader,” she explained. “Not everyone has to be comfortable with every situation but it’s really fun to see students stretch themselves and succeed.” FALCON FEATURES FALL 2019


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At first glance, it may seem like a game of Mad Libs, yet these four objects are all connected in a way that goes well beyond their outward appearances. These four items have become threads in the fabric that makes up UW-River Falls. by Kelsea Wissing “Our mission is to help prepare students to be productive, creative, ethical, engaged citizens and leaders with an informed global perspective,” reads the UW-River Falls mission statement. At the heart of that mission statement lies an intention to prepare students for life beyond campus. Falcons are encouraged to broaden their horizons by traveling abroad and they’re urged to enrich their learning by diving headfirst into research. They’re inspired to engage their creative sides, explore new paths to innovation and push themselves every day. The goal is for Falcons to leave UW-River Falls with not just a degree but an experience that prepares them for the future. Bowls, shoes, houses and sandwiches aren’t explicitly mentioned in that mission statement. Neither are the words “giving back” or “community service” for that matter. Yet, those ideals are deeply embedded in the UWRF spirit and giving back is just one more way for Falcons to enrich their lives. Service above self starts at the top at UWRF, modeled by Chancellor Dean Van Galen and his wife, Mary, and their work with Bowls for Hope. It’s a snowball effect from there on out. Falcons use their talents and gifts in the name of service – both on campus and off – every year while they’re students. And then, for many, the spirit of service follows them as they become alumni and spread their wings throughout the world.



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Servant leadership When UWRF Chancellor Dean Van Galen was inaugurated in 2010, he and his wife, Mary, set out to initiate a service project as part of his inauguration activities.

“At commencement, I always encourage our graduates to give back their time and treasure to positively impact others and their communities,” explained Chancellor Van Galen. “I believe that all of us, especially leaders such as myself, need to be role models for our students in developing qualities of servant leadership.” After surveying surrounding communities and finding a common love for art, particularly pottery, Mary Van Galen solicited the help of alumnus and professional potter Doug Johnson, ’60; UWRF Art Department Chair Randy Johnston; and others, and Bowls for Hope was born. The premise is simple. Local artists, including UWRF students and local middle and high school students, create bowls from various mediums that ticket-buying patrons select to take home. Local restaurants provide soups for tasting and compete for the Chef’s Choice and People’s Choice awards. The event also includes a silent auction. A different local charity is selected as the recipient of the fundraiser’s



profits each year. Year one supported Our Neighbors’ Place, a River Falls shelter that provides support services to families and individuals of Pierce and St. Croix counties. The most recent recipient of Bowls for Hope’s generosity was the River Falls Sunshine Club. Led by local high school students, the nonprofit offers help to families and students in the greater River Falls area in times of crisis. Supporting local organizations is key to Bowls for Hope’s mission and while the chosen groups benefit financially, UWRF and broader communities benefit in other ways. “The local artists have been very generous in their support of this event through donations of bowls and silent auction items,” said Mary. “In exchange, the chefs, restaurants, local artists, schools, and university students receive education about the nonprofit chosen each year.” “Bowls for Hope exemplifies a unique aspect of UW-River Falls’ role as a public university: serving and positively impacting the communities in which we are embedded. Our university

cannot be an island or an ivory tower,” added Chancellor Van Galen. “We are the people’s university, and part of our commitment is to collaborate with others to uplift the communities and citizens of the St. Croix Valley.” Although Bowls for Hope lasts just an evening, it takes a full year to organize and involves significant assistance from the campus and the community. “The result is a magical evening,” said Mary. “The magic is found in observing university and community members from diverse backgrounds all come together to enjoy a few hours of fellowship to benefit a cause bigger than any one person.” Bowls for Hope celebrated its 10th anniversary in March and to date has raised more than $60,000 for local charities.

For more information on Bowls for Hope, visit www.uwrf.edu/BowlsForHope/. The 2019 event raised $8,000 for the River Falls Sunshine Club. Bowls for Hope 2020 is set for Tuesday, March 10, at UW-River Falls and solicitations for the designated beneficiary will take place in the fall.



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Service by shoeing away hunger College students are constantly busy. Whether it’s classes, athletics, clubs or employment, students manage to fill their days quickly. Despite their demanding schedules, many Falcons find time to give of themselves. “College is a very unique time in life to meet other people, try new things and to develop into the person you want to be. I believe serving others is invaluable,” explained Alanna Bram. “When someone decides to do something, to make a difference for even one person, it is the first step to creating a positive change in the world.” Bram, a 2019 UWRF graduate, did just that during her time on campus. The



Rochester, Minn., native brought Shoe Away Hunger, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit to UWRF, while earning degrees in biology and Spanish. The organization collects unwanted shoes and sells or recycles them to raise money to support local households facing food insecurity and Bram felt UWRF was a natural fit for the project.

campus,” she explained. “It was also a great opportunity to educate my fellow students about the problem of hunger and food insecurity. I felt once students and staff knew that they were helping alleviate hunger and improve the environment, they would choose to donate unwanted shoes rather than placing them in the trash.”

“[UWRF] advocates for community service and environmentalism and I felt certain that students and staff would contribute. It is as simple as tying or banding pairs of shoes together and placing them in a bin located on

Bram’s intuition was correct. The UWRF community donated nearly 900 pairs of shoes during the first drive two years ago and it grew even larger in its second year. With support from Kathleen Hunzer, professor of English and director

For more information about Shoe Away Hunger, visit http://goodinthehood.org/our-programs/shoe-away-hunger/. To donate or assist with UWRF’s campus shoe drive – or any other student-led service effort – contact paul.tietz@my.uwrf.edu or kathleen.hunzer@uwrf.edu.

of Falcon Scholars and the UWRF Honors Program, Bram carried out most of the project on her own the first year, coordinating with various campus departments, advertising the drive and even carrying bags of shoes across campus daily as she emptied collection bins. She says she learned a valuable lesson in delegating by year two though, and the drive expanded as more Falcons dove in to help. Paul Tietz is one of those Falcons. A senior environmental science major from Waunakee, Tietz was inspired by Bram’s spirit of service. With Bram’s graduation,

Tietz is stepping into her shoes to lead the project on campus and he hopes others are inspired like he was. “I really admired how she established this drive on top of so much else she did on campus. I don’t want to see her project lose momentum,” he said. “This shoe drive is bigger than us. I hope other students realize how great this chance is to get involved with something that benefits others.” Hunzer echoes Tietz and Bram’s calls to service, noting how important it is for the university to support acts of giving.

“When people see the varied ways that we all serve our communities, they see that we live our university mission, that it’s not just something we put on a webpage. Students often say that one of the reasons they chose UWRF is because they felt a sense of belonging and felt comfortable on campus,” explained Hunzer. “I think emphasizing the volunteer work that goes on behind the scenes only strengthens the sense of community and belonging we provide to students.”


Submitted photos


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A long trek to service While Spring Break for the college set may often entail a road trip, it’s usually one headed to a beach or at least a warmer destination after a long Wisconsin winter!

It’s not often that those time-honored college Spring Break trips head in the direction of the mountains and it’s even rarer that those road trips carry students headed for a week of manual labor. That was the case for a group of Falcon student athletes this past March. UWRiver Falls Assistant Athletic Director Kellen Wells-Mangold, Coordinator for Diversity, Inclusion & Student-Athlete Success Chantel Flegler and nine students loaded up a pair of Dodge Caravans and headed for Longmont, Colo., to participate in the Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge. In 2013, Boulder County was hit with historic flooding and is still struggling to rebuild over five years later. The group’s mission was to aid in the construction of duplexes in one of the hardest hit areas.



But why give up their Spring Break? Student-athletes have very busy schedules and five of the Falcons on the trip had finished their hockey season just two weeks prior – most wouldn’t blame them for taking a bit of a breather. The group – who kept a live blog of their travels – shared their thoughts before they set off. Every Falcon was quick to share their reasoning and every participant shared the same sentiment: it was about the opportunity to give back. Wells-Mangold easily saw the value in having students take this trip, in particular the value of them heading offcampus for their service work. “I think it gives them perspective,” he explained. “Most of our student athletes come from Minnesota and Wisconsin so

this gives them an opportunity to see different parts of the country and not have to compete while doing so. It was a chance for us to go out there, meet people and help others.” The group traveled a grand total of 2,153 miles during their eight-day trip. They spent a day volunteering with a local resource center before spending three days painting, caulking and drywalling three homes. In their posttrip reflections, each of the participating Falcons reflected on not just the perspective they had gained, but the skills they picked up along the way. “The best part of the trip was having the opportunity to work on the duplexes for people that needed them while also getting closer to the others that came on the trip,” shared Chaz Olson, a junior

soccer player from Chippewa Falls. “I learned to step more out of my comfort zone and put myself out there. It’s also nice to know how to drywall a house.” For his part, Wells-Mangold felt that the combination of a new environment, new skills and the chance to help others only strengthened the students’ UW-River Falls experience.

of what we’re here for which is to help these students grow and experience different things,” he explained. “That’s why they come to college, to learn about new stuff and new places and

meet new people so they have a greater perspective when they leave here. Then they’ll hopefully go make the world a slightly better place.”

To read the full blog written by Falcons on the Habitat for Humanity trip, visit https://medium.com/@uwriverfalls/falcon-athletics-gives-back-5f0790c8488b.

“I think it just goes back to the heart FALCON FEATURES FALL 2019

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A lifetime of service and sandwiches “I haven’t slept a full night in a bed in about ten years. I’m out on the streets until 3 or 4 a.m. and then I get a quick nap and go from there.”

To learn more about the Sandwich Man (Allan Law) and his mission, visit http://www.loveoneanother363.org/. Financial contributions drive the organization which receives no state or local funding and pays no salaries to Law or others associated with the project. Individuals and groups are also encouraged to make sandwiches to be distributed to local populations. Guidelines and instructions for preparing sandwiches are also available on the Love One Another website.



What sounds like a miserable sleep pattern to many is just a typical day for Allan Law. To say he is some sort of superman might be an understatement - he prefers to be called Sandwich Man anyway. Law spends his nights traveling the streets of downtown Minneapolis, handing out sandwiches, energy bars and bus tokens to those in need. A quick early morning nap refreshes him just enough so he can spend his days visiting with needy populations, speaking to organizations about his work and preparing for the night where he’ll start the cycle over. Law, a Minneapolis native, earned his teaching degree from UW-River Falls in 1967. Although he spent little free time on campus – he was commuting to Minneapolis to work on the weekends – he speaks fondly of his time on campus, remembering the impact of small classes and compassionate professors like the late Robert Bailey, professor of sociology. Law’s own compassion for others drew him to the teaching field, although his greatest passion consisted of the “social work” he performed after school and on weekends.

“I earned my last credits in the summer of ’67 and went right to work teaching that fall. From day one I realized there were a lot of kids in Minneapolis that didn’t have a lot of opportunities. So I started my own after-school program,” he recalled. “Even the principal thought I was crazy.” His after-school program evolved into much more than just school work. Ask him about the work he’s done over the years and he’ll quickly recount trips to North Dakota and Colorado with vans full of teenagers, visits to the suburbs meant to subtly inspire inner city kids and feeding hundreds of kids a night at the local McDonald’s. “Back in the ‘70s, you could get a hamburger, pop and fries for 99 cents. Somedays it was 150-200 kids,” he said. Those combo meals eventually turned into sandwiches and Law, who gives out an average of 2,200 sandwiches a night, is on track to give away more than 800,000 sandwiches and 350,000 energy bars this year. Although he operates within a 501c3, Law has never received any government funding for his programs and his work is

sustained through donations, mostly by local organizations. He houses 17 refrigerators in his apartment and maintains another seven storage units filled to the brim with donations and supplies for his work on the streets. A two-time cancer survivor, Law estimates that he’s tallied well over 200,000 volunteer hours in his life. He’s received numerous accolades, including honors from three U.S. presidents, has been presented the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Gold Medallion at the U.S. Supreme Court and a National Jefferson Award at the U.S. Senate. But despite his lengthy list of awards, the recognition is far from what drives Law’s work. “The key is the compassion. I probably have more compassion than I should have. If I see someone in need, I will stop. I don’t care if it’s a suburban area, an elderly person. I speak to everyone,” he explained. “I could spend all night on the street and I wouldn’t solve 1/10th of the problems. But that’s why I keep doing it.”

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falcon athletics

To Faye with love UW-River Falls paid tribute to the university’s winningest women’s softball coach during a dedication ceremony in April when Perkins Field was named in honor of Faye Perkins who coached 22 seasons for UW-River Falls. Considered one of the finest fields in the upper Midwest, Perkins Field is a far cry from the field Perkins remembers when she arrived at UW-River Falls in 1986. “The softball field on campus was nothing more than a dirt infield with a chain-link fence backstop,” Perkins recalls. “There was no outfield fence, there were no dugouts, no batting cages, no pitching warm-up area. We had to carry benches out from Knowles Center to sit on.” When Perkins talks about what she believes are her accomplishments, wins and losses are never mentioned. She says it’s the opportunity she had working with young people that are the true highlights of her career.


The Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) recently presented Faye Perkins a Special Recognition Award. The award is bestowed to individuals who have made unique contributions and/or have served the conference in an official capacity (e.g., athletics administrators, coaches, faculty athletics representatives, officials) over a number of years. Perkins’ 30 years of service at UW-River Falls included roles as head softball coach, faculty member, department chair, interim dean and interim provost. In 22 seasons as head softball coach from 1989-1997, 1999-2007 and 201215, she compiled a 479-403-2 record with two WIAC regular-season titles and three tournament championships. Her 479 victories rank third on the conference’s all-time wins list. She directed the Falcons to NCAA tournament appearances in 1993, 1994 and 2012. Perkins was named the WIAC Coach of the Year in 1996. In 2012, the Falcons posted a school-record 34 victories and Perkins received National Fastpitch Coaches Association Regional Coaching Staff of the Year accolades.

Familiar faces

Alumni named to head coaching roles Sowa spent the last two years as a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Minnesota, she previously served as the head girl’s track and field coach at River Falls High School.

Colleen Sowa and Jason Phillippi have found their way home. Sowa was recently named head men’s and women’s track and field coach, Phillippi will coach the men’s and women’s UWRiver Falls cross country programs while also serving as an assistant coach for the Falcon track and field programs. The UWRF alums have been coaching in various compacities since they graduated, for both returning to campus is a gratifying experience. “I am extremely excited and honored to be given the opportunity to return to my alma mater and lead the Falcon track and field program,” said Sowa. “UW-River Falls is a special place for me and my family. I look forward to being able to serve the university and give back to the program that has done so much for me.

Phillippi returns to UWRF after spending nearly six years coaching at the club level for Run4PRs Coaching, Inc. and Lifetime Athletic. Prior to his experience at the club level, Phillippi served as a high school assistant cross country and track and field coach for five years.

Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2019 The 2019 UW-River Falls Athletic Hall of Fame class will be recognized during the Homecoming football game on Saturday, Oct. 19. This year’s class includes nine individuals and one team.

“I had such a wonderful experience in my years as a student-athlete creating so many lifelong memories and lasting relationships,” said Phillippi. “I want nothing more than to give back to the community and inspire current and future student-athletes to become their best self as a runner and as an individual. Director of Athletics Crystal Lanning says both coaches bring an ideal blend of experience to their new roles. “Their backgrounds as championship caliber student-athletes and coaches along with strong connections to UWRF and the track and field communities, make them a perfect fit to lead our track and field and cross country programs.”

Coaching transition for women’s basketball Blake DuDonis has been named the eighth head coach in UWRF women’s basketball history. “We are excited to welcome Coach DuDonis to the Falcon family,” said Athletics Director Crystal Lanning. “He is an experienced recruiter and has a passion for developing competitive studentathletes in the classroom and on the court.” DuDonis comes to River Falls after serving as a national evaluator for Blue Star Basketball, the oldest and largest national evaluation organization in women’s basketball. He has also served as an advanced regional scout for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics. “I am so honored and thankful to be named the next head women’s basketball coach at UW-River Falls,” said DuDonis. “Everyone I spoke with during the selection process told me of the potential the program had and the moment I stepped on campus I realized how true that was.” The team opens the 2019-20 season Nov. 8 at Page Arena in the Falcon Center vs. Marian University.

Inductees are: Faye Perkins (Coach/Administration) Marlene Yaeger Hull (Hockey/Cross Country/ Track and Field) Becca Jordahl Wingenbach (Cross Country/ Track & Field) Krista Hasselquist Oldenburg (Track and Field) Vicki Cooper Janisch (Track and Field) Emily Howlett Dabrowski (Softball) Mike Piette (Men’s Hockey) TJ Dahl (Men’s Hockey) Jim Thies (Positive Contributor) 1994 Men’s Hockey Team The recognition event will take place at halftime at the Falcons vs. UW-La Crosse football game October 19 at 1 p.m. The induction ceremony is in the Riverview Ballroom, University Center, with a reception at 6 p.m. and a dinner and program following at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for the induction ceremony and dinner are available by calling the University Advancement Office at 715-425-3505.



homecoming 2019

Coming home!

Homecoming 2019

Friday, Oct. 18

will include many memorable events taking place across campus and in the community. A complete list of activities can be found on the UWRF Homecoming webpage at www.uwrf.edu/studentinvolvement/eventsandprograms/ homecoming.cfm

Volleyball | Falcons vs. UW-Whitewater 7 p.m. | Page Arena at Falcon Center

Thursday, Oct. 17 St. Croix River Boat Cruise 4:30 p.m. | Dock Cafe, Stillwater, Minn.



Saturday, Oct. 19 Homecoming Parade 9:30 - 11 a.m. | Alumni and Friends Coffee Tent, Veterans Park 10:30 a.m. | Parade, Downtown River Falls Football | Falcons vs. UW-La Crosse 1 p.m. | Smith Stadium at Ramer Field

campus development

The dust is settling in Rodli Hall In just a few months, student centered services from across campus will find their way to new homes in the former dining hall. “The Rodli Hall renovation project creates a student collaboration center on campus,” said Dale Braun, UWRF campus planner. “It provides convenient access to essential student services as well as provides necessary academic support in an open and engaging environment.” The idea of creating a studentcentered services center isn’t necessarily unique but is definitely a value-added piece of the UW-River Falls student experience. “Students appreciate convenience, especially our new students,” said Sarah Nelson, director of Admissions. “Knowing they can find support and information in one location helps to ease their anxiety. The newly

remodeled Rodli building will be a central hub for students, faculty and staff alike.” Once complete, 14 departments from six different buildings will be housed in totally remodeled space, custom designed to meet contemporary and future student needs. “The renovation of Rodli Hall will transform our ability to provide student services and engagement opportunities such as undergraduate research and international education,” added Chancellor Dean Van Galen. “We are grateful for the support of the State of Wisconsin and our students, who are supporting a portion of the project through a student fee. When complete in January 2020, this renovation of existing space will greatly benefit future UW-River Falls students.”

Student centered services in the newly renovated Rodli Hall First Floor Admissions Career Services Coffee Shop Financial Aid International Programs Presentation Room Student Ability Services Second Floor Academic Success Center Center for Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Collaboration Spaces Falcon Scholars and Honors Program McNair Scholars Meditation Room Student Health and Counseling Student Support Services Undergraduate Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity (URSCA) Veteran Services Writing Center



alma matters Class Notes. Weddings. Future Falcons. In Memoriam.

New leader of University Advancement “Rick Foy joined UW-River Falls in May where he serves as the assistant chancellor for University Advancement. Foy comes to UWRF after serving as the associate director/interim director-major gifts for the UW-Eau Claire Foundation for the past seven years. Raised in Amery, Foy is familiar with the River Falls community and has many ties to UW-River Falls. “My mom and dad were both alumni, graduates of what was then River Falls State Teachers College and so were four of my mom’s five sisters,” said Foy. “UWRF provided some of my first college experiences. I often attended sports events on campus and attended music and journalism clinics during my high school years. It may sound cliché, but accepting this position really was a homecoming of sorts.” Foy received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from UW-Eau Claire and his master’s degree in communications management from S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. He and his wife, Melanie, live in Cottage Grove, Minn. They have three daughters.  

Class Notes Note: Cities listed without a state are in Wisconsin.


Camilla Parent Langness, 1940 is a 2019 inductee of the Somerset Hall of Fame. She was the valedictorian of the class of 1938 in Somerset. The Hall of Fame Committee wrote that Langness “represents exactly what Somerset is all about: community, service, family.” She is the third person to be inducted into the Somerset Hall of Fame.


Jerry Cognetta, 1970 was recently inducted into the WIAA Fast Pitch Softball Hall of Fame for coaching. Nancy Bovee Viebrock, 1970 was a featured artist at artZ gallery in September. She is a practicing artist living in the St Croix Valley. Since UWRF, she has continued her interest in art by taking workshops and classes from various art institutions and nationally recognized instructors. She also studied in an atelier setting with Mary Pettis for three years. Her training in classical realism eventually gave way to collage and then on to assemblage after taking several classes from J. Fred Woell, Richard Salley and Michael DeMeng. Bill Forster, 1976 was one of 11 new members named to the WFCA Hall of Fame. He was an assistant River Falls High School football coach under Tom Carroll from 1980-89 before taking over as head coach from 1990-2001. In 11 seasons, his teams posted a record of 62-50 with three playoff appearances and one Big Rivers Conference championship. Robert Ickler, 1976 was presented with the KIMT Golden Apple Award which is given to one teacher each week in the viewing area and is selected based on nominations. Ken Hoffmyier, 1979 is a housekeeper in the St. Croix Central School District.


Bradley Caskey, 1980 is the interim president at BirminghamSouthern College. He has been provost there since 2017 after more than three decades of leadership at UW-River Falls where he was most recently dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.


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

Vickie Conrad Iverson, 1980 has retired after 38 years teaching elementary students in St. Paul, Minn.

Jeff Kolstad, 1984 was named senior vice president at Partners bank based in Marshfield.

Susan Schlies Obermiller, 1991 was re-elected to a three-year term to the Catholic Financial Life Board of Directors.

Jamie Steffen Kleiner, 1980 has retired from the New Richmond School District. She taught kindergarten for 13 years and then fourth grade for four years before finishing her career as a math instructional coach for kindergarten through second grade. She plans to take some time to travel with her husband who has been retired for five years and to spend more time with her four grandchildren.

Mary Jo Webster (Slywester), 1994 was one of four Star Tribune journalists whose series of stories, “Denied Justice,” were named as finalists for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Local Reporting. The nine-part series that published in 2018 revealed systemic flaws in how sexual assault cases are handled by Minnesota’s criminal justice system. Numerous reforms have launched in Minnesota as a result of the stories. “Denied Justice” has also won several other awards, including the public service award in the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi awards. Webster has been the data editor at the Star Tribune since 2015.

David Wyrick, 1993 is featured at Swan Vision’s fourth special exhibition of the 2018 season with “Finding Equilibrium in the Driftless.” Wyrick is an artist best known for discrete sculptures carved or fabricated from stone or wood, sitespecific (land-based) installations and his involvement as a fabricator (since 2006) with the Colorado-based interdisciplinary collective M12, which undertakes collaborative projects in rural communities (both nationally and internationally) to explore the aesthetics of rural cultures and landscapes.

James V. Strauss, 1980 has been named the new publisher of the Missoulian and Ravalli Republic. Strauss was president and publisher of Great Falls Media, which is owned by Gannett, for the last 15 years. He was executive editor of the company, which includes the Great Falls Tribune, from 1995 to 2003. Dennis Schultze, 1981 joined Peterson Farms as the research lead in a team with Greg Thompson and Alex Anderson. Schultze was previously a soybean breeder for Dow AgroSciences and Mertec LLC. David Doerfert, 1982 is the associate dean of the graduate school and professor of agricultural communications at Texas Tech University, Lubbock.

Vern Capelle, 1985 was awarded the 2019 Administrator of Excellence Award for Region 5 in recognition of his leadership, concern for students and active involvement in professional and community affairs. Steve Kenny, 1986 was recognized by Jazz Journalists Association as Minnesota’s Jazz Hero for 2019. Kenny has been providing the Twin Cities with tunes for over 30 years. Linda May Conner, 1987 is the center director at the Chippewa Valley YMCA.

Brad Hewitt, 1982 has retired as CEO of Thrivent. Hewitt joined Thrivent in 2003 as chief fraternal officer. He was named COO in 2008 and CEO in 2010. He began his career with Securian in the Actuarial Services Department and held positions with increasing levels of responsibility at UnitedHealth Group and Diversified Pharmaceutical Services. He later felt called to serve in administrative roles with the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.

Steve Dinkel, 1988 was inducted into the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame.

Sandra Kracht, 1982 has retired after 32 years of service to the State of Wisconsin.


Larry Voltz, 1983 has retired after 36 years with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Minnesota. For the past 30 years, Larry has been the district conservationist for Beltrami County and the Red Lake Indian Reservation. He and his wife, Elsa, reside in Bemidji, Minn. Ron Beckstrom, 1984 is director of business services at Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College.

Cary Sifferath, 1988 was honored for 25 years of service to U.S. Grains Council at the 16th International Marketing Conference and 59th Annual Membership Meeting in Cartagena, Colombia.

Rachael Lupton Drenckpohl, 1990 has retired after 22 years as a public defender for Dodge County. Kathy Schmidbauer Robole, 1990 is an English as a second language teacher in the Hudson School District. Judy Ness Youngblood-Bourn, 1990 is a fifth grade teacher at St. Bridget’s School, River Falls. She has 32 years of experience in teaching in Dodge Center, Minn., and Spring Valley and Hammond. Sara Coen Manlick, 1991 was named the September Employee of the Month by the Little Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. Manlick works for Jason Anakkala, LTD.

Kristi Oakes Matousek Fox, 1994 is vice president of human resources at Securian Financial Group, Inc. Mark Kinders, 1994 was awarded a Certification of Commendation and Freedom Medallion by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin for his volunteer service as co-chair of a statewide Task Force to improve access to health care for Oklahoma’s 350,000 veterans. Kinders served as investigator to a statewide survey by 3,000 veterans and testified on the results to an Oklahoma House of Representatives Interim Hearing that passed four bills to improve the ability of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs to provide access. A recommendation to Gov. Fallin will be to create a $250 million Oklahoma pilot project through the Veterans Administration as a national model. The University of Central Oklahoma, where Kinders is a vice president, will establish and monitor performance benchmarks and conduct client survey research to track the pilot project’s success. Kinders served as director of public affairs at UWRF from 1985-2008. Duane Jourdeans, 1995 is a high school English teacher in the St. Croix Central School District. Peggy Fuerstenberg Skogen, 1995 is a math and science teacher at the Renaissance Academy, River Falls. Jay Heeg, 1996 was named 2019-20 Professional Dairy Producers president. Heeg worked for Babson Brothers Company, the parent company of Surge milking equipment, before returning to the farm in 1999. Tricia Braun, 1997 was named one of the top economic development officials in North America by a national consulting firm. Braun is the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s deputy secretary and chief FALCON FEATURES FALL 2019


alma matters operating officer. Braun, who has 20 years of economic development experience in three states, has been with WEDC since 2013.Before joining WEDC, Braun was the director of economic development in Riverside, Calif., a city of more than 300,000 people and served as community development director in Zumbrota, Minn. Braun also served as executive director of the River Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. Jason Cress, 1997 is the principal at Viroqua High School. Cress was principal at Unity High School for 10 years, and prior to that, he spent two years at Denmark High School near Green Bay as assistant high school principal. He taught high school and middle school agriculture classes in Chippewa Falls for eight years. Chad Eggert, 1997 is an alternative education teacher and the head girls basketball coach in the New Richmond School District. Eggert previously worked at Northwest Journey for 13 years as a group facilitator, a year at Amery High School in alternative education, and a year at Clear Lake Elementary in physical education. Jason Serbus, 1997 is head athletic trainer for the Washington Capitals (winners of the NHL Championship). He recently visited his hometown of Bird Island, Minn., with the Stanley Cup. This was his first year with the Capitals after spending nine seasons with the Arizona Coyotes. Glenn Webb, 1997 is the 4K-5 principal/superintendent in the Elmwood School District. His wife, Amanda, teaches at Elmwood and their three daughters attend school there as well. Neda Lilly Larsen, 1998 is a sixth grade language arts teacher at Hudson Middle School. Daniel Dacko, 1999 has opened his own bike shop in Madison. He is vice president of Capital Off Road Pathfinders, a mountain biking advocacy group. Dacko has been in the bike industry for more than 20 years; it all starting while he attended UW-River Falls. Jennifer Bloomquist Stanger Roettger, 1999 is an employee experience manager for Fairview Health Services in Minneapolis. Tory Wink, 1999 is the varsity boys basketball coach for Somerset High School after two years as assistant coach. He has 17 years of varsity coaching experience and eight years of athletic director experience.


Missy Kowalchyk, 2000 is a 6th-8th grade reading specialist/ interventionist at Hudson Middle School.


Maxfield Neuhaus, 2000 was appointed by the Wisconsin Access to Justice Coalition to the 2018 Pro Bono Honor Society and reappointed to the Editorial Board of Wisconsin Lawyer Magazine. He was also named in the 2018 edition of Super Lawyers Magazine. Nic Been, 2001 is the director of teaching and learning in the St. Croix Central School District. Tessa Banitt Amundson, 2002 is a third grade teacher at Rocky Branch Elementary School, River Falls. Chris Blasius, 2002 was recently awarded the Professional Business Woman Award. She just finished a stint as CEO of the River Falls Chamber of Commerce, having started there in 2013. Erin Johnston Singel, 2002 is the library media specialist at Rocky Branch Elementary School, River Falls. Kady Kleven Bauschelt, 2003 is the sixth grade physical education and health teacher at Hudson Middle School. Ryan Egan, 2003 is the head coach, Directory of Player Personnel for the Texas Lawmen. Egan has 10 plus years of experience as head coach at the junior level as well as an assistant coach at Saint Mary’s University, Winona, Minn. After a collegiate career at UWRF, Egan began his coaching career with the Omaha Energy AAA program where he was program director and head coach. The program quickly became recognized as one of the top developmental programs in the U.S. From there, Egan moved on to guide the San Antonio Diablos (WSHL) where he compiled a successful 6332-5 record. He then coached at St. Mary’s University for five seasons. A two-year stint as head coach of the La Crosse Freeze (NA3HL) was next before being named head coach for the Coulee Region Chill (NAHL). In his first season of 2016-17, a franchise record was set for Division I NCAA college commitments. Katie Mitchell, 2004 took a first place win at the Branch Warren Classic in Houston (a body building competition) after spending 15 weeks preparing for a journey she always dreamed of taking, but never thought she could. She was a competitive gymnast and sprinter at UWRF and earned her degree in physical education. Brian Pfannes, 2004 has received his master’s degree in business administration from UW-Milwaukee. Ryan Scherz, 2004 is a special education and emotional behavioral disabilities teacher at Meyer Middle School, River Falls. Brittney Henderickson Dovenberg, 2005 has published her fourth young adult book. Terrence Neumann, 2005 is a high school science teacher. Previously, he

was an assistant professor of chemistry at Texas Wesleyan University, Fort Worth. Shelly Moore Krajacic, 2006 won re-election to serve a second term on NEA’s Executive Committee, the highest governing body for the three-million-member National Education Association. Jackson King, 2007 is an industrial technology teacher for the Rushford-Peterson School District. He teaches six courses including Intro to Welding, Beginning Woods, Intro to Computer Aided Design, Rapid Prototyping, Small Gas Engines, as well as Project Welding and Metal and Wood Art Fabrication. Jeanna James Burgan, 2008 was named Agri-Science Teacher of the Year by the Wisconsin Association of Agriculture Educators. Brugan has been teaching at Chippewa Falls High School for the last three years and will be going into her 11th year of teaching this fall. Richard Franta, 2008 is dairy sales manager for Wisconsin at TechMix Global. He was herd manager on the family farm developing the financial and animal sides of the business. Prior to this, he worked for Compeer Financial. Nils Torning, 2008 was sworn in as sergeant for the City of Cottage Grove, Minn. Katherine Stolp, 2009 is the Carl D. Perkins grant coordinator at Lake Superior College (LSC). Carl D. Perkins federal funding provides for the improvement of secondary and postsecondary career and technical education programs. Prior to LSC, Stolp served as a career specialist/recruiter at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, Superior.


Michael Carlson, 2010 is a police officer in Woodbury, Minn. He was one of four new officers sworn in by the Mayor of Woodbury in May 2019. Prior to becoming a police officer, he worked as a gang enforcement detective in Willmar, Minn. Anne Croone, 2012 was named property manager at Alpine Mountain Ranch and Clubs. Lindsey Guenther, 2012 received the Wisconsin Education Association Council’s Badger Red for Public Ed Award awarded to a teacher in appreciation for his/ her dedication to students. Lindsey has taught fourth grade at La Grange Elementary School for the past seven years. Mitch Klimek, 2012 is a high school science teacher in the St. Croix Central School District. Mitchell Roberge, 2012 is a special education and emotional behavioral disorders teacher at River Falls High School.

Billie Mikolichek Robinson, 2012 is a seventh grade reading teacher in the Ellsworth School District. Her previous work experience was teaching language arts and reading for grades 6-8 at St. Bridget Parish School, River Falls. Quincy Conrad, 2014 is a speech-language pathologist at Hudson Middle School.

Christopher Brunner, 2017 is a laboratory technician for J6 Polymers in Genoa, Ill. Kayla Christopherson, 2017 is a biology teacher at Ellsworth High School. Her previous experience includes teaching in the Spring Valley School District.

Casey Doten, 2014 is an alumni relations, scholarship & awards coordinator at the Purdue Forestry & Natural Resources Department.

Kyle Karlen, 2017 was awarded the Dairy Calf & Heifer Association Scholarship which recognizes an outstanding student pursuing a degree in agriculture with a particular interest in calf health and future productivity.

Lauren Lindell, 2014 is a kindergarten teacher at Rocky Branch Elementary School, River Falls.

Helen Van Hoven LaRoue, 2017 is as a kindergarten teacher at Westside Elementary School, River Falls.

Aaron Niemann, 2014 and his family created Beef Fest to show what Emerald Lane Angus Farm is all about. Beef Fest is a chance for farmers to talk about raising cattle. It’s also a chance for those unfamiliar with farming to see what goes on at the farm on a daily basis.

Kelsie Maxwell, 2017 is a 4K teacher at Trinity Academy, Hudson.

Michael Peterson, 2014 is a newspaper digitization technician at the Minnesota Historical Society and has received his Master of Library & Information Science Degree-Archives from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Travis Carlson, 2015 is teaching seventh grade STREAM, eighthgrade earth science, and high school science electives in the Spring Valley School District. Lonnika Barbee, 2016 is a seventh grade special education teacher in the St. Croix Central School District. Logan Boettcher, 2016 is a teacher at Elmwood Schools, coming from St. Anne Catholic School, Somerset, where he taught 4K-8th grade physical education. Aubree Evans, 2016 is a fifth grade teacher at Starr Elementary. Her prior experience includes teaching fourth grade for two years at Spooner Elementary. Connie Murphy Girdeen, 2016 is a first grade teacher at Starr Elementary. Previous work experience includes teaching kindergarten at St. Francis in Ellsworth (2016-18) and a paraprofessional at Prairie View Elementary, Ellsworth. Courtney Mahr, 2016 is a fifth grade teacher at Starr Elementary. Previously, she was a third grade teacher at Greenwood Elementary School for two years. Carlie Melstrom, 2016 is a seventh grade science teacher at Meyer Middle School, River Falls. The prior two years, she taught middle school in San Jose, Calif. Autumn Voigt, 2016 is a virtual school counselor in the St. Croix Central School District.

Department of the American Jersey Cattle Association. Jill Haupt Tiffany, 2018 is a second grade teacher at Rocky Branch Elementary School, River Falls. Lydia Wagner, 2018 is a special education teacher at Ellsworth Middle School. Taylor Woller, 2018 is a seventh grade science teacher in the St. Croix Central School District. Rachel Young, 2018 is the K-5 Spanish teacher for Greenwood, Westside, Rocky Branch and Montessori schools in River Falls.

Isaac Neumann, 2017 is a first grade teacher in the St. Croix Central School District. Cody Waalen, 2017 is a high school social studies teacher in the Somerset School District. Danielle Bebus, 2018 played Shelby in the River Falls Community Theater’s production of Steel Magnolias. He resides in Woodbury, Minn. Michael Diggins, 2018 is a physical education and health teacher in the Centennial (Minn.) School District. A running back at UWRF who led the conference in rushing his senior season, Diggins will coach the safeties under his father, head football coach Mike Diggins. Shelby Edmondson, 2018 is a high school language arts teacher at Onamia schools. Kelsey Gwidt, 2018 is a new second-grade teacher at Chatfield Elementary School. Sarah Knecht, 2018 is a ninth and 10th grade English teacher at New Richmond High School. Reggie Larson, 2018 is the varsity football coach in New Richmond. He also is teaching physical education and is the strength and conditioning coordinator. He was an offensive lineman for four years at UWRF. Kaile Marlatt, 2018 is a kindergarten teacher at Hillside Elementary School. Ryan Subera, 2018 is a social studies teacher specializing in history and sociology for the Frederic School District.

About Alma Matters

Send us your latest news. We will print your notes in the next issue. Here’s how: 1) e-mail falconfeatures@uwrf.edu or 2) submit a form located on our website at www.uwrf.edu/ 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 kjisa.munson@uwrf.edu

Kaila Wussow Tauchen, 2018 is assistant director of communications for the recently restructured Communications FALCON FEATURES FALL 2019


alma matters Falcon Farewell

Manley Fossen, 1951 died March 20, 2019.

John Nelson, 1960 died Feb. 10, 2019.

Linda Kruse, 1968 died Dec. 3, 2018.

Isabelle Murphy O’Connell, 1938 died April 30, 2019.

Arnold Johnson, 1952 died Sept. 5, 2018.

William Zemke, 1960 died June 3, 2019.

William Beskar, 1968 died Dec. 31, 2018.

Catherine Reagan Chapman, 1941 died March 21, 2019.

Charles Connelly, 1952 died Jan. 29, 2019.

James Durning, 1961 died Dec. 1, 2018.

Patricia Hoff Simons, 1968 died Jan. 9, 2019.

Roland Krogstad, 1942 died Nov. 7, 2018.

Harold Monette, 1952 died March 6, 2019.

Harold Havlik, 1961 died Dec. 4, 2018.

Orris Peck Blodgett, 1968 died Feb. 5, 2019.

Ellen Brooke Nelson, 1944 died Sept. 25, 2018.

Ambrose Murphy, 1952 died May 18, 2019.

Shirley Ladd Forest, 1961 died June 22, 2019.

Robert Seifert, 1968 died March 23, 2019.

Shirley Wiff Schutt, 1946 died Oct. 31, 2018.

Clifford Ehlers, 1952 died May 21, 2019.

Theodore Flakenberg, Sr., 1963 died Dec. 21, 2018.

Philip Adelmann Jr., 1969 died Nov. 8, 2018.

Lorraine Thannum Olson, 1946 died Feb. 28, 2019.

Roy Heglmeier, 1952 died May 26, 2019.

Charles Bishop, 1963 died Feb. 22, 2019.

Allan Hanson, 1969 died Feb. 5, 2019.

Leona Wohlk Mielke, 1946/1950 died May 12, 2019.

Arvin Lovaas, 1953 died Dec. 21, 2018.

Donald White, 1964 died March 25, 2019.

Donald Teed, 1969 died Feb. 7, 2019.

Joyce Condit Johnson, 1948 died March 27, 2019.

John Bos, 1956 died Dec. 26, 2018.

Marguerite Tresselt-Hoffman Barker, 1965 Lawrence McCormack, 1969 died Jan. 29, 2019. died April 10, 2019.

Emil Vandermause, 1949 died Oct. 14, 2018.

Charles Christenson, 1958 died Oct. 16, 2018.

Nadine Amphlett Gratz, 1966 died Oct. 10, 2018.

David Johnson, 1969 died April 13, 2019.

Marilyn Krueger Fischer, 1949 died June 10, 2019.

Robert Miller, 1958 died Nov. 21, 2018.

David Klinefelter, 1966 died Dec. 11, 2018.

Daryl Anderson, 1970 died April 6, 2019.

Anne Anderson, 1950/1970 died May 1, 2019.

Bernice Westpfahl Zellmer, 1958 died Feb. 1, 2019.

Terrence Mahoney, 1966 died Feb. 11, 2019.

Eldon Bader, 1970 died April 9, 2019.

Lorraine Blegen Matthias, 1950 died Dec. 19, 2018.

Otto Becker, 1958 died May 27, 2019.

Thomas Kongslien, 1966 died May 20, 2019.

Phyllis Carlson Lundeen, 1971 died Dec. 25, 2018

Donald Murtha, 1950 died Feb. 1, 2019.

Hope Metcalfe Swenson, 1959 died May 27, 2019.

Michael Pittman, 1967 died Dec. 21, 2018.

Dennis Johnson, 1972 died Sept. 26, 2018.

Orville Johnson, 1951 died Sept. 17, 2018.

Norman Lang, 1960 died Oct. 16, 2018.

Theodore Bartels, 1967 died April 3, 2019.

Thomas Howard, 1972 died April 2, 2019.

Lloyd Wolfe, 1951 died Jan. 24, 2019.

Lawrence Gansluckner, 1960 died Oct. 28, 2018.

Barbara Jecevicus Goetzelman, 1967 died May 6, 2019.

Virgil Wenger, 1972 died April 19, 2019. Gerald Wallen, 1972 died June 12, 2019. Robert Corey, 1973 died Oct. 3, 2018. Richard Halstead, 1973 died Jan. 28, 2019.

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:

Linda Erickson Nechvatal, 1973 died March 17, 2019.

• It costs you nothing today to make a bequest.

Leigh Livermore, 1975 died Jan. 28, 2019.

• 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 advancement@uwrf.edu. Ask for your free Guide to Planning Your Will or Trust. We are happy to assist you!



Anthony Ruys, 1975 died June 7, 2019. Catherine Perrault, 1976 died Oct. 28, 2018. Gregory Kreuziger, 1976 died Nov. 9, 2018. Steven Peterson, 1976 died March 15, 2019. John Kestell, 1976 died May 7, 2019.

Kathleen Browne Weyers, 1976 died May 20, 2019. Todd Bol, 1979 died Oct. 18, 2018.

Richard “Dick” Swensen, 1930-2019

Jeff Martalock, 1979 died Feb. 27, 2019. David Aanenson, 1980 died Aug. 19, 2018. Dennis Kreuziger, 1980 died Dec. 20, 2018. Debora Debaets Beyerl, 1981 died Oct. 2, 2018. Richard Moses, 1981 died Nov. 8, 2018. Robert Shield, 1982 died Oct. 14, 2018. Marilyn Polski Kenealey, 1982 died Nov. 4, 2018. Gary Richie, 1983 died Oct. 1, 2018. Terry Lemahieu, 1984 died Sept. 30, 2018. Katherine Olsen Troy, 1984 died June 21, 2019. Peter Maki, 1985 died Sept. 9, 2018. Conroy Soik, 1985 died April 4, 2019. Steven Dowling, 1986 died Nov. 27, 2018. Mary Schloff, 1988 died Oct. 21, 2018. Brian Wilson, 1990 died Dec. 31, 2018. Johnathan Zierdt, 1990 died March 27, 2019. Timothy Schirck, 1994 died Nov. 23, 2018. Karen Kissinger Luebke, 1996 died April 14, 2019. Judith Evenson Tostrud, 1996 died April 16, 2019. Susan McNamara, 1998 died Nov. 21, 2018. Timothy Hall, 1999 died Feb. 11, 2019. Joshua Derrick, 2016 died Oct. 4, 2018.

Former dean and chemistry Professor Emeritus Richard “Dick” Swensen died Jan. 10, 2019, leaving behind a legacy of generosity and service. Swensen joined the faculty of what was then Wisconsin State College-River Falls in 1955, and after a brief hiatus to finish his doctorate, returned to its ranks in 1961. He served as chair of the Chemistry Department from 1967 to 1969 and as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1969 to 1988. Swensen served two terms as chair of the University Faculty Council, the precursor to the present Faculty Senate. He was also named Distinguished Professor by the Johnson Foundation and was named Distinguished Teacher in 1970. Swensen retired in 1993. “Dr. Dick Swensen was an outstanding educator and campus leader who has made an uncommon and lasting impact on UW-River Falls,” Chancellor Dean Van Galen said. “In particular, his visionary leadership in the area of international partnerships impacted countless students and faculty. Part of Dr. Swensen’s great legacy at UWRF is reflected in how today’s university has remained committed to global education. On a personal level, Mary [Van Galen] and I have had the extraordinary opportunity to build a friendship with Dick and his wife, Grace, over the past ten years. We will remember Dick as a kind, gracious and generous man who deeply understood the value of education.” Swensen’s passion for education extended well beyond the classroom and the city of River Falls. As dean, he instituted faculty exchanges both in Europe and the Pacific Rim and brought numerous internationally recognized individuals and groups to campus. Charles Kao, economics professor emeritus and 1974 Distinguished Teacher who currently leads the Commonwealth Publishing Company in Taiwan, described Swensen’s main characteristics as “…integrity, abundant energy, visionary leadership, as well as being a passionate outstanding teacher, an international ambassador with global knowledge,” Kao said. “All of us, particularly the international community, will always remember his wisdom and enthusiasm.”

The Swensen family traveled the world often, but it was the River Falls community they loved. They supported and participated in many community activities and thought highly of the exceptional education the university provided. Swenson’s wife, Grace, is a UWRF graduate as well as all six of their children. Two of them, David and Stephen, went on to earn the Distinguished Alumnus Award.  While UW-River Falls educated his family, Swensen educated generations of students. Former students recall that it didn’t take long for Swensen to build relationships in the classroom.  “He knew everyone’s name by the second day,” said 1960 graduate and UWRF physics Professor Emeritus Curt Larson.  Even current students who never met Swensen may know him as the inspiration for the sundial attached to the South wall of the Kleinpell Fine Arts building.  “The sundial meant a lot to him and he was committed to seeing the project through despite numerous hurdles. Dick was tickled when it was complete and was proud to explain how it works whenever he had the opportunity.” said physics Professor Emeritus John Shepherd, recalling his partnership with Swensen to build the unique sculpture.  The Richard and Grace Swensen Endowed Scholarship, created in 1988 by colleagues, family and friends, is a tribute to Swensen’s 19-plus years as dean. The scholarship, through the UW-River Falls Foundation, continues today to support undergraduates. Captain Dan Brandenstein, ‘65, and 1983 UWRF Distinguished Alumnus, credits Swensen’s inspiration during his freshman chemistry class as a major contributor to his successes at NASA, both as an astronaut and space shuttle commander. “It all started in that class where he encouraged us to work hard and dream big,” Brandenstein said.



alumni recognition

Golden Jubilee Class of 1969

Award-winning alumni by Kelsea Wissing

Left to right, Chancellor Dean Van Galen, Allan Law, ‘67, Steve Wilcox, ‘74, and Vang Lo, ‘08.

Each spring at commencement, UW-River Falls celebrates exceptional alumni who have made impacts in both their careers and communities. This year’s trio of award winners represent a variety of backgrounds and achievements, yet all represent the best of UWRF alumni. Steve Wilcox, ’74, was honored with the 2019 Distinguished Alumnus Award. Wilcox, who earned a B.S. in biology, is the 83rd recipient of the award, the most prestigious acknowledgement of alumni accomplishments at UWRF. Wilcox is president and founder of The Resultants, a leading Twin Cities business advisory firm, and has more than 40 years of entrepreneurial success. Wilcox has been honored many times for his extensive community work which includes 40 years of board chair and leadership positions throughout the St. Croix Valley and Twin Cities. He has been awarded the Community Volunteer of the Year Award and together with his wife, Terri, ’77, received the Marie Blakeman Lifetime Community Service Award, both from the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce. He’s also a recipient of the Silver Beaver Award, one of the highest volunteer honors bestowed by the Boy Scouts of America. Criteria for the award include personal accomplishments in one’s field, civic responsibility and contributions to their community, continuing interest in the university and highest integrity in professional, public and personal relations. In 2014, the Alumni Advisory Board created the Lifetime Achievement and Outstanding Young Alumni awards. The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes alumni who have provided long-time


exceptional service and leadership in their profession and community. Allan Law, ’67, was named the 2019 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Law earned a B.S. in elementary education before embarking on a lifetime journey of service. He spent 32 years as a teacher in inner city Minneapolis public schools and founded the Love One Another nonprofit in 1967 which is dedicated to serving the Twin Cities homeless population. Law has volunteered more than 200,000 hours over 51+ years of service. He has been recognized by three U.S. presidents for his public service and received numerous accolades, including the 2000 National Jefferson Award for Public Service presented at the U.S. Supreme Court. The 2019 Outstanding Young Alumni Award was presented to Vang Lo, a 2008 graduate with a B.S. in marketing communications. Lo added a M.S. in education, school counseling in 2013, and has served as a counselor in Twin Cities high schools since 2014, serving diverse, low-income and underrepresented students and their families. As a student, Lo was honored with the counseling program’s Student of the Year Award and was later honored with the 2018-19 UWRF School Counseling Alumnus Award. Lo also works within his Hmong community as a realtor, volunteer and young family leader and is a recipient of the Lo-Pha Leadership and Community Service Award. The Outstanding Young Alumni Award recognizes the accomplishments of individuals who have excelled in professional and civic accomplishments and have graduated from UWRF within the past 15 years.

More than three dozen members of the UW-River Falls class of 1969 returned to campus in May to celebrate their Golden Jubilee. The group was recognized at commencement and their weekend included campus updates from Chancellor Dean Van Galen, tours of campus and time spent catching up with classmates. The Golden Jubilee for the Class of 1970 is set for May 8-9, 2020. For information, contact Director of Alumni Relations Pedro Renta at 715-425-4553 or pedro.renta@ uwrf.edu.

Our donor list has moved online. For a full list of our generous donors, visit go.uwrf.edu/donorlist.

donor profile

Dairy Farm D.C.



Karen Handorf

by Kelsea Wissing

Although Karen Handorf grew up on a dairy farm near Barron, her eventual career path took her far from the fields of Wisconsin. Now partner and head of the Employee Benefits practice group at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll in Washington, D.C., Handorf has spent her career advocating for fair health and retirement benefits. She’s never forgotten her roots though, both from the farm and her time as a Falcon, and those roots have not only guided her work over the years, but inspired her to give back to UW-River Falls. Handorf fell in love with UWRF while attending summer school on campus during high school. Affordability was key as she enrolled with an eye on the debate program – knowing her future plans included law school – and she quickly found her niche. “I was very fortunate to be heavily involved in intercollegiate forensics and debate competition while at UWRF,” she recalled. “The debate program taught me how to analyze and see both sides of complicated issues, to think on my feet and to articulate an argument in an organized and persuasive fashion – skills that have served me well as a litigator. Plus, we had so much fun going to debate tournaments!”

The skills she picked up on the Falcon debate team have stuck with her. After earning her B.S. in history and speech communications at UWRF in 1972, Handorf added a J.D. from UW-Madison three years later. She spent 25 years as a lawyer for the U.S. Department of Labor, starting as a trial attorney but eventually rising to the position of deputy associate solicitor, the second highest ranking career official in charge of ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) litigation and enforcement throughout the U.S. She retired from that role in 2007 and moved on to her current firm where she’s continued to fight for employee protections, including having two cases reach the Supreme Court. “I’m most proud of the fact that I have helped shape the law in ways that help large numbers of individuals obtain the retirement and health benefits that they have earned,” she explained. “I have been able to help level the playing field.” Handorf hasn’t just helped level the playing field for working folks, she’s helped do the same for many Falcons. She’s spent time on the Alumni Advisory Board and is serving her second term on the UWRF Foundation Board of Directors. She’s also contributed to both the unrestricted and Falcon Scholars

funds at UWRF and says there is a multitude of reasons for her to give back. “I am grateful that UWRF gave me the opportunity to obtain a superb education at a cost that I could afford and want others in similar circumstances to have that same opportunity,” she explained. “I know that UWRF is full of bright, disciplined, creative and forward thinking young people who have enormous potential to accomplish amazing things. A contribution to the university, no matter how large, gives these students and others like them the ability to fulfill their potential.” While she admires and supports the opportunities UWRF provides for all students, in the end, those dairy farm roots can’t help but tug at Handorf’s heart. “My hope is that some farm girl like me with big dreams but not much money will be able to accomplish those dreams because UWRF provides her not only with a first rate education, but with experiences and opportunities that give her the confidence to take on the world,” she added.



410 S. 3rd St. River Falls, WI 54022-5010


Alumni Events

is offering two outstanding travel opportunities to alumni and friends.

Wisconsin State Capitol Tour – Sept. 21, 2019 Kerfoot Canopy Zipline Tour – Sept. 29, 2019 CAFES World Dairy Expo – Oct. 1-5, 2019 Pine Tree Orchard Family Day – Oct. 5, 2019 St. Croix River Boat Cruise – Oct. 17, 2019 Homecoming – Oct. 18-20, 2019 Athletic Hall of Fame – Oct. 19, 2019 Wisconsin Dells UWRF Alumni Weekend – Jan. 2-5, 2020 Feed My Starving Children - Feb. 13, 2020

For more information, contact

Pedro Renta UW-River Falls 715-425-4553 pedro.renta@uwrf.edu

WI Day in Florida (Fort Myers Beach) - Feb. TBD, 2020

Sunny Portugal 10 Days, 12 Meals | May 12- 21, 2020 Deadline: Nov. 4, 2019

Wisconsin Day in Arizona (Sun City) – March 12, 2020 Brewers Spring Training – March 14, 2020 UWRF Giving Day - April 3, 2020 Alumni Awards – May 8, 2020 Class of 1970 Golden Jubilee – May 8-9, 2020

Iceland: Land of Fire and Ice 9 Days, 13 Meals | September 9 -17, 2020 Deadline: March 10, 2020

Alumni trip to Portugal: Estoril Coast, Alentejo & Algarve – May 12-21, 2020 Alumni trip to Iceland: Land of Fire and Ice – Sept. 9-17, 2020 For additional event information, contact University Advancement at 877-258-6647 (toll free), alumni@uwrf.edu, or visit www.uwrf.edu/alumni

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Profile for University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Falcon Features Fall 2019  

Falcon Features Fall 2019