In the eyes of Michael Falbo, his time as part of the University of Wisconsin System’s Board of Regents has never been about personal achievement, but rather about the students he serves.
Falbo, who is also a UW-Madison alumnus, is now entering his 11th year as a member of the Board of Regents, his second as Regent President and is also preparing for the end of his term May 1.
New regents are appointed by Wisconsin’s governor and then approved by the state Senate, with one of the regents elected to serve a one-year term as president regent. Falbo was initially appointed as a regent in 2004, to finish a vacated term. He was then re-elected to serve a second, full seven-year term in 2008.
As the end of his term nears, Falbo says he wants to be able to leave the UW System with a solid leadership structure after a time of transition that involved the selection of five new chancellors. He also said his goal is nearing completion.
The most pressing issues facing the UW System never change, according to Falbo, with the central concern being to ensure the System provides “the best possible education as efficiently and cost-effectively” as possible for students.
“We’re still here to serve the students,” Falbo said. “There’s no UW System without students.”
He also emphasizes the importance of students voicing their wants and needs to administrators about campus issues.
“If they’re not here, if we’re not talking, then we’re going blind. We’re not going to get to the right answer,” Falbo said. “As long as we’re talking, we’re going to get to the right end.”
Reflecting on his tenure with the Board of Regents, Falbo says he does not think of his own personal accomplishments but rather sees the work of the regents as a collaborative effort.
And, as he sets out on the last year of his term as a regent, Falbo continues to advise students using his experience with challenges faced in life, especially in school.
“Everybody goes through ups and downs throughout their career, throughout their life,” Falbo said. “As far as it pertains to higher education, whenever you think you’re crossing one of those hurdles or whenever you think it can’t happen, talk to the people around you.”
With the better part of his term behind him, Falbo also expressed gratitude to have the opportunity to serve the UW System as regent president.
“Deep down, I am humbled,” Falbo said. “I am grateful.”