Reflections on Viterbo from its most recent president

Reflections on Viterbo from its most recent president

Calum Sullivan, Assistant Editor

As Rick Trietley transitions from interim to official president of Viterbo University, the Lumen decided to get in touch with someone who has experience with some things Trietley may be dealing with as he begins his presidency.   The Lumen sat down with former Viterbo President Glena Temple to ask her about her time at the university and to reflect on the community she left behind and the man who now leads it.   


After serving at Viterbo for over 20 years, Temple resigned as president at the end of the 2021 spring semester and accepted the position of president at Dominican University in River Forest, Ill. Temple quoted St. Francis saying, “I had done what was mine to do” at Viterbo. She went on to explain, “Knowing Viterbo had such strong leaders across campus to step up … made leaving easier. Viterbo is in good hands and will continue to thrive.” 


When asked about Rick Trietley’s leadership, Temple had nothing but compliments to offer Viterbo’s new president. Reflecting on her experiences with Trietely, which date all the way back to his hiring at Viterbo in 2017, she says, “I have always been impressed by Rick’s student-centered approach and his deep commitment to Franciscan education, and he will be a strong President for Viterbo. I had the privilege of hiring Rick to join Viterbo and to work closely with him on many projects.  Rick has strong leadership skills that were very evident as he co-led the COVID response taskforce in 2020-2021.  I’m proud to call Rick my friend, and I know he brings passion to the role of President.” 


The Lumen was interested to hear Temple talk about similarities and differences between Dominican University and Viterbo and to gain some perspective on what the schools could learn from each other.  Temple said the two schools were very similar, insisting each were “both founded by strong women to serve the needs of the community and increase access to education.” She added that Dominican especially “has a strong commitment to social mobility, and serving students that have historically had less access to higher education. Working in this space is my calling and where I find energy each and every day even in the face of adversity.”  


When asked what Viterbo could do to better itself as a university, Temple replied that “everyone in higher education should be committed to helping more students graduate and find success in their chosen field.”  She added, “Viterbo works very hard to accomplish this, but it is something the entire industry needs to keep in front of us all the time.  How Viterbo supports students is changing as the demographics of the student body have shifted.  Historically, Viterbo served primarily undergraduate students from small, rural high schools surrounding western Wisconsin.  As Viterbo has expanded in size and reach, the student body now includes more students from further away and more students from city/suburban schools, more graduate students, and more diversity (race/ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic background, gender, etc.).  This growth requires Viterbo to continually evaluate systems to meet the needs of the students of today.”  


Temple ended by reflecting on some of her fondest memories at Viterbo. Many of them included working with students and finding new ways for students to thrive while experiencing new opportunities at Viterbo.  “Working with Viterbo students will always be the highlight of my time at VU, including teaching freshmen in biology and in the Franciscan Values and Traditions seminar (with Sr. Lucy Slinger), working with undergraduate research students, and engagement opportunities in the community.”  Temple added that she fondly remembers “the opportunity to take a pilgrimage to Assisi through the FSPA and later establishing the relationship with the city of Viterbo, Italy.”   


Temple was thankful for Viterbo’s support and encouragement, which “helped me grow in many aspects of my life (profession, spiritual, and personal),” and added that she “made lasting friendships and [has] tremendous respect for the faculty and staff who are deeply committed to the mission.”