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A global mission: First time in 30 years UWRF document has been updated

UW-River Falls officials are in the process of updating the university's mission statement, which will reflect a global perspective, updated offerings, vision and values representing the campus’ evolution since 1988, the last time the mission statement was revised. Mike Longaecker / RiverTown Multimedia

As UW-River Falls updates its mission statement for the first time in 30 years, it does so with a nod to connections far beyond the campus.

University officials said the statement, which underwent a public hearing last week, will reflect a global perspective, updated offerings, vision and values representing the campus' evolution since 1988, the last time the mission statement was revised.

But Chancellor Dean Van Galen said the most substantive changes in the document aren't new to the campus community. A portion describing UWRF's vision and core values was formulated as part of a 2012 strategic plan.

Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs David Travis said the updated mission statement's new language comprises a paragraph outlining who the university serves, what types of programs it offers and what degrees are available.

That portion is preceded by a summary reading "Our mission is to help prepare students to be productive, creative, ethical, engaged citizens and leaders with an informed global perspective."

Compared to 1988, the section emphasizing the world beyond UWRF represents a significant change, Van Galen said.

"As a campus community, we're recognizing global education," he said.

Few people participated in the public hearing, held Sept. 13 at the University Center, though Assistant Vice Chancellor and Executive Director for International Education Heidi Soneson voiced her support of the wider approach during the meeting.

She said the university's commitment to global engagement has drawn people to work and attend the campus.

"I appreciate that acknowledgement," Soneson said at the meeting.

UW Board of Regents member S. Mark Tyler, a Woodville resident, echoed her remarks.

"It's not something I would have expected, but it's true," he said at the meeting.

Tyler, founder and president of OEM Fabricators, said that while a global mindset has taken hold at UWRF, the campus hasn't lost its sense of closeness.

"You feel like you kind of get a hug and pulled in" at River Falls, he said.

The mission statement will next go before UWRF student senate, where students will be able to weigh in before being asked to approve it. Travis said there "is some opening for some tweaking," but that major changes aren't expected.

He said students had little input on the revised statement, mainly because work on it was done over the summer when most students are away.

Student Body President Rosemary Pechous said she is supportive of the new mission statement and that limited student input doesn't detract from the role students play in shaping the campus mission.

"Student input is valued throughout the UW System, and especially on our campus," she said.

The Board of Regents will consider final approval of the new mission statement at its meetings on Oct. 4-5.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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