MADISON — Gary A. Thibodeau, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls since 1985, has been named interim senior vice president for academic affairs at UW System in Madison. The appointment is effective August 1.

Thibodeau, 61, announced last summer that he would be stepping down this year at UW-River Falls. His successor, Ann Lydecker of Bridgewater State (MA) College, will become chancellor on August 1.

David J. Ward, senior vice president for academic affairs at UW System, announced in December that he would step down from that position on July 7. The search for his successor began during the spring and will continue until a permanent appointment is made. It is expected that Thibodeau will serve in an interim capacity through December of this year.

“Gary is one of the most experienced and respected senior administrators in the UW System,” said President Katharine Lyall. “His judgment and skills are recognized throughout the System. I am grateful to him for his willingness to serve in this role and to keep us moving forward as we complete the search for a permanent vice president.”

Thibodeau is currently the longest serving chancellor in the UW System. “My wife, Emogene, and I have been part of the UW System for the past 15 years,” he said. “I’m glad to have another opportunity to work with President Katharine Lyall. The academic affairs staff at System Administration is excellent. I look forward to providing leadership to them and to the institutions around the state in the area of academic and student affairs. It’s also important that we sustain our current momentum, so that the next senior vice president can build upon the fine work done since 1994 by Dave Ward.”

Before coming to UW-River Falls, Thibodeau was vice president of administration at South Dakota State University from 1980 to 1985. Prior to that, he was assistant to the vice president for academic affairs from 1976 to 1980.

He graduated from Creighton University in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry, and went on to South Dakota State in 1965 as a graduate assistant in zoology. There he received a master’s degree (1967), a second master’s degree in pharmacology (1970), and a Ph.D. degree in animal science-physiology (1971). He joined the South Dakota State faculty that year and received tenure.

Thibodeau is co-author of an internationally recognized college-level textbook, Anatomy and Physiology (which has been translated into Spanish, Italian, Chinese and Japanese), as well as other scholarly works. He currently holds tenure at UW-River Falls as a professor of biology.

UW System Academic Affairs includes Academic Program and Planning, Learning and Information Technology, Multicultural Affairs, Policy Analysis and Research, and the Transfer Information System. It also encompasses the Undergraduate Teaching Improvement Council and the Women’s Studies Consortium, both of which are Systemwide in scope. The unit is the largest in the UW System Administration, with about 75 people on staff.


Kevin Boatright, UW System
(608) 263-2227