The Chancellor’s Cabinet is full — of advisers who hope to help students

Posted October 2, 2017

Compared to other leadership bodies on campus, the chancellor’s Cabinet might be less known to students.

“The Cabinet is a group of administrative leaders from around campus,” UWRF Chancellor Dean Van Galen said. “We focus on some important issues related to the campus. Some examples would be the state budget, UW System initiatives, our strategic plan Pathways to Distinction. We look at information and data, have discussions about the direction of the university and really collaborate and work together.”

The chancellor said a critical part of Cabinet is communication and sharing information between campus divisions.

“When I arrived at UW-River Falls at that time, there was a larger cabinet,” Van Galen said. “I believe it was 15 people, so larger group, and then I decided to go to a smaller Cabinet of six people, and then for this academic year I thought it would be advantageous to include other persons on the Cabinet,” Van Galen said.

Van Galen said that the driving force behind expanding the Cabinet is to enhance the communication among campus leaders.

New members include the deans of all four academic colleges: Tricia Davis, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Dale Gallenberg, dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences; Michael Harris, dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies and Michael Fronmueller, dean of the College of Business and Economics.

The chancellor’s four direct reports are also new appointees: Alan Symicek, executive director for facilities planning and management; Sarah Egerstom, executive director of admissions and new student and family programs; and Crystal Lanning, interim athletics director.

These seven new members join the chancellor, along with: Faye Perkins, interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs; Elizabeth Frueh, assistant chancellor for business and finance; Chris Mueller, assistant chancellor for university advancement; Gregg Heinselman, assistant chancellor for student affairs; and Beth Schommer, executive assistant to the chancellor, to make up the cabinet.

“The two really key people here are the chancellor and Beth (Schommer) because it’s the chancellor’s Cabinet,” Mueller said. “It’s his cabinet, we just participate. We’re members of at his invitation.”

Mueller is one of the returning members of the Cabinet and has sat on the cabinet for six and a half years.

Mueller was in favor when the idea to expand the Cabinet was proposed.

“Admissions, facilities, athletics play a critical role on this campus and having them be part of the discussion makes it just that much of a better discussion,” Mueller said. “Any time we can improve communication and improve the diversity of perspectives at the table, it always leads to a better answer.”

Interim Athletics Director Crystal Lanning sees that her unique perspective can benefit the Cabinet, the athletic department and the university as a whole.

“Some of (the chancellor’s) direct reports– so (athletics), admissions, facilities– we play a much different role than some of the academic units on campus,” Lanning said. “For us in particular, we still service a huge population of students but maybe from a more auxiliary function but I think we still can provide a different perspective.”

Ultimately, Cabinet has a direct effect on student life, even if students don’t know about it.

“It would be good to have some input from the colleges,” said April Mootz, a senior sociology major who had never heard of the Cabinet. “I definitely think that’s a good idea.”