Interim chancellor brings Eau Claire experience

Kyle Seidel

While Chancellor Donald Mash wraps up his duties at UW-Eau Claire, Vicki Lord Larson will prepare to take them on as interim chancellor.

UW System President Kevin Reilly offered her the position about a month ago, while she already was in the process of moving to Eau Claire, she said.

“I was moving back, because I started to think about where I wanted to retire, and I decided that out of anywhere in the United States, I wanted to retire in Eau Claire,” Larson said.

She will hold the position until a permanent successor can be found in the following months.

“I want to give the campus, the university sufficient time to search and screen for a new chancellor,” Larson said. “So I will be there as long as the campus needs me.”

Vicki Lord Larson, 60, joined UW-Eau Claire’s faculty in 1973 as an assistant professor of communication disorders. She later became a professor and served as chair of the Department of Communication Disorders from 1978-79.

In 1984, Larson was named assistant dean for Graduate Studies and University Research. In 1989, she was promoted to associate dean, a position she held until 1991 when she became dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research at UW-Oshkosh.

In 1994, Larson was named acting provost and vice chancellor at Oshkosh, and was named provost and vice chancellor in 1995. She retired from the institution in 2000 as a professor emeriti of communication. She then served as a consultant to the UW System president from 2000 to 2001.

She said she hopes that her 30 years of experience in the UW System will be beneficial to the Eau Claire campus.

Larson joined Eau Claire’s faculty in 1973 as a professor of communication disorders, and served as chair of the department from 1978 to 1979.

In 1991 she became dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research at UW-Oshkosh.

Larson was named provost and vice chancellor in 1995 at Oshkosh. She retired in 2000 as professor emeriti of communication, but served as a consultant to the UW System president until 2001.

In terms of returning to an administrative position, she said she thought one challenge would be knowledge of the current issues.

“I will need to make sure that I am fully aware of all the current issues and the nuances of those issues,” Larson said, “but I am hoping to hit the road running.”

Student Senate President Chad Wade said Larson is very familiar with the university and doesn’t think there will be many issues.

“I think that she is going to do fine,” he said. “We just need to get her up to date on all of the things that are going on.”

She said she is not concerned about the challenges she will face.

“I think that my challenges will be very few because I have an excellent administrative team that I will be working with,” Larson said. “And Chancellor Mash has debriefed me about the state of the university, which I think is in a very good state.”

Larson has a good understanding of the campus and the UW System, Mash said at a Feb. 4 press conference. She was celebrated as a great provost at Oshkosh.

“I can’t imagine that the transition will be anything but smooth,” he said.

With the change occurring in the middle of the semester, the time to find the next chancellor could take slightly over a year, Mash said.

“That’s why it’s so important to have a good fit with the interim position,” he said.

Larson said she thinks she will bring valuable attributes to Eau Claire.

“I hope that people consider me to be a good listener, and that I will listen to a wide array of issues,” she said. “I think I am a high-energy person who enjoys being around students, faculty and staff.”

Provost and Vice Chancellor Ron Satz has worked with Larson in the past and said in a Feb. 4 interview that she has the qualities needed to fulfill the position.

She has many leadership traits, such as the ability to communicate well with students and faculty, he said.

“I think she will be a very good academic leader, and I think she will do a very fine job,” Satz said.

Larson said she enjoys being around people and would like to visit with alumni.

“I love Eau Claire and the campus, and I have many friends there,” she said.

She also said she is grateful for the opportunity to be working in Eau Claire again.

“I am looking forward to being included in the fundraising efforts,” she said. “And just the overall academic and student services aspects of the university.”