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Our view: A servant leader, Glena Temple led Viterbo through impressive growth

Our view: A servant leader, Glena Temple led Viterbo through impressive growth

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Take a look at the strategic plan for Viterbo University, and you see the words service, collaboration and leadership.

Its Franciscan values are embodied in a servant-leadership program that promotes ethical decision making, theological reflection, leadership skills and public activity.

By that standard, Glena Temple has been a model for her university and our community.

Temple will step down next month after 20 years at Viterbo — including the last four and a half as president — to lead Dominican University in the Chicago area.

She led Viterbo through impressive, strategic growth as well as dealing with the challenges of the pandemic.

And she did so as a true servant leader, focusing the spotlight on her students, faculty and staff, never on herself.

She led a strategic plan that emphasizes the university’s goals of developing student talent and leadership potential, strengthening community connections and meeting evolving employer needs

For example, Viterbo developed an engineering program to meet the need for more engineers in our region, working with local industry leaders to develop meaningful curriculum.

That’s how you focus on serving your students and your community.

Under Temple’s leadership, Viterbo has developed academic partnerships with neighboring universities to increase student opportunity in the region.

Viterbo developed a co-op program with the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse that allows students to take classes at the other school in programs not offered at their school.

In February, Viterbo signed an agreement with Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota that provides flexibility and increased academic offerings for students at both schools.

Those agreements build upon the 2-plus-2 program that Viterbo has maintained for years with Western Technical College.

During Temple’s presidency, Viterbo’s endowment grew from $43 million to more than $60 million and expanded graduate enrollment.

She led the difficult decision to cut some programs that were losing enrollment while expanding programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

The school is building on its outstanding nursing program, which now includes a doctoral program, by adding graduate-level community medical dietetics and adult gerontology — acute care.

Viterbo is also adding a bachelor degree in computer science and a master degree in school counseling.

Temple, who earned a doctorate in botany and plant sciences as well as a masters in educational policy and leadership, has practiced servant leadership on a variety of boards in our area.

Her service has included the Amie L. Mathy Center for Recreation and Education — a partnership between Viterbo and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse.

She has also served on the boards of the Weber Center for the Performing Arts (another Viterbo collaboration), Gundersen Health System and the Franciscan Spirituality Center.

Temple is always the first to credit others. That’s what servant leaders do.

But colleagues will tell you her leadership — gracious, quiet, inclusive — was crucial in guiding Viterbo’s transformational leadership role in educating students and our community.


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