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Vice Chancellor David Gessner steps down after 32 years at UW-Eau Claire

December 13, 2013
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David Gessner

EAU CLAIRE — After 32 years of service to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, David Gessner, vice chancellor for administration and finance, is retiring this month.

Gessner joined the UW-Eau Claire staff in 1981 as chief accountant for the university. In subsequent years, his responsibilities changed and he held the titles of associate director of business services, university budget officer and director of business services. Organizational changes in 2009 resulted in his being named assistant chancellor for budget and finance, and in 2012 he was named vice chancellor for administration and finance.

"Dave Gessner has provided outstanding service to UW-Eau Claire for more than three decades," said UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt. "He has been an expert steward of university resources and an effective liaison with UW System. The university is grateful for the contributions he has made through the years on behalf of our students, faculty, staff and administration."

As vice chancellor for administration and finance, Gessner oversaw the development of the annual university budget and provided leadership and vision in financial planning as he worked with members of UW-Eau Claire's executive staff, student government leaders, senior leadership, University Senate and others in meeting the strategic goals of the university.

Gessner has never lost sight of his singular guiding principle when it comes to UW-Eau Claire finance and administration, which is to protect and serve the institution he loves, said Patricia A. Kleine, UW-Eau Claire provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.

"Many of us in academic affairs administration have been new to the university," Kleine said. "He has been an effective tutor and mentor to us in 'how things are' and even, at times, willing to explore ways of doing things differently. He leaves UW-Eau Claire with our considerable respect and deep gratitude."

Gessner said he is especially proud of his work with students, student leaders and the Student Senate Finance Commission.

"Over a number of years we improved our financial planning and revenue projection models and worked to improve the organized activities budget process," he said.

Gessner assisted with the design, development and implementation of the Blugold Commitment's budget and financial structures. The Blugold Commitment is a student-supported differential tuition of $1,200 that is invested in academic programs that add value to the UW-Eau Claire degree: collaborative undergraduate research, international and multicultural study, and internships. The Blugold Commitment also provides financial assistance to students with need.

"UW-Eau Claire student engagement in funding decisions related to this differential tuition program is unmatched anywhere else in the UW System," he said. "Students and academic affairs administrators are rightfully proud of our partnership."

Student body president Bryan Larson said he has relied on Gessner's wisdom and advice to guide him in his student leadership position.

"He is one of the most student-centered and level-headed administrators I have encountered in my time at the university," Larson said. "Dave will be remembered as a student advocate who asked the important questions and included student leadership in key decisions at the university. He will be missed."

Prior to joining UW-Eau Claire, Gessner worked as an internal auditor for UW System Administration. He received a bachelor's degree in business administration (1971) and an MBA (1976) from UW-Eau Claire.

Martin Hanifin, vice president for finance and administration at Colorado State University-Pueblo, has been named to replace Gessner as vice chancellor for administration and finance and chief business officer. Hanifin begins his duties at UW-Eau Claire Jan. 15.

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