A Chancellor's Final Words
an exit interview with UWEC Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich
At the helm of UW-Eau Claire for nearly six years, Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich is moving on next month to become president of Westminster College, a private liberal arts institution in Salt Lake City, Utah. He came from Eastern Washington University and began in June 2006 after Chancellor Don Mash left for a leadership position with the UW System in 2005, and after retired professor and administrator Vicki Lord-Larson filled in for a year as interim chancellor. Levin-Stankevich is known for presiding over the most significant building projects on campus since the 70s, a major strategic plan and master plan for the campus, the unprecedented Blugold Commitment, and the usual assortment of campus controversies that he says have made the campus stronger.
After living in the Eau Claire area for six years, what are some of the strengths of the community?
I think the strengths are typically around the quality of life issues. It’s a safe community, there’s great transportation. ... I’m surprised more businesses don’t realize the crossroads we have here. I think you’ve got good community leadership, both in the business sector and the public sector. University leadership and school leadership tend to turn over every few years, but by and large there is a longstanding cadre of people in the business community that have been here a long time who provide leadership and who care about the community a great deal. I think the investment that RCU made in downtown is critical. Other people like John Mogensen and Lisa Aspenson with the restaurants, has been following up on that along with some other developers, and that’s going to be a key to the future of the region because if you spread things out too far I think you don’t have much identity to the community. But having Phoenix Park there, and hopefully continued future development there (residential, commercial) is going to be great for the community. Just using the riverfront differently now, there’s a different awareness of how to use the waterfront.
What about converging strengths of economic development and culture?
The strength of our music program and what that brings to the community – everything from the Jazz Festival to summer concerts, to spin-off blues, rock and folk, and all kinds of other bands and performances. If I were going to put a bet anywhere, I’d say that Eau Claire really can become a strong center for music and the arts in Western Wisconsin.
What do you think are some of the challenges facing the community?
I think we need more better-paying jobs in the region. That’s probably a key to maintaining some of the strengths we have, and keeping people here. We go to so many events on campus, everything from concerts to athletics – so many people though that don’t take advantage of that even though they are as good as you’re going to find in any city this size, even at a professional level.