On July 1, Mary and I will begin a new chapter in our lives in Joplin, Missouri, as I begin my service as the president of Missouri Southern State University. While we are excited about this unique opportunity to make a difference in a new place, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and the greater River Falls community will always be a wonderful part of our life story. We want to thank both the university and broader community for its support and friendship over the past 11 years.

READ MORE: UWRF chancellor named president of Missouri Southern State University

I believe that great things are possible when people work together and am truly grateful for the support of the community and collaboration with UW-River Falls during my time as chancellor. Whether it has been advocacy for the Falcon Center, support for Bowls for Hope, development of the St. Croix Valley Business Innovation Center or a host of other collaborative efforts, this is a community that works together.

UW-River Falls has a proud history that has impacted thousands of lives, beginning in 1874. As part of this history, I have been blessed to lead UWRF during a time of both great challenge and many shared accomplishments. On July 1, with the wise leadership of Interim Chancellor Dr. Connie Foster I know that this impact will continue. While the university faces serious and unprecedented challenges, I know that over time, with continued community advocacy and support, the future of UW-River Falls will be extraordinarily bright.

While Mary and I will be exchanging our Falcon colors for Missouri Southern Lion green and gold (yes, Packer colors!), we will forever be Falcons. We say farewell with a deep sense of gratitude to the community, faculty, staff, alumni and especially the students — who have inspired us and brought special joy to our lives during our time at UWRF.

Dean (and Mary) Van Galen, UW-River Falls chancellor