Scott Mihalovic Honored to Be Viterbo's First Medland Chair

Tuesday, April 30, 2024
Scott Mihalovic

When Scott Mihalovic was approached with the offer to be the first William Medland Chair of Educational Leadership, university officials didn’t know just how deep of an honor it would be to him.

Mihalovic has been at Viterbo for 10 years, overseeing the university’s educational leadership graduate and certificate programs. His connection with Viterbo, however, goes back much longer.

Scott Mihalovic in meeting

As a Logan High School administrator, Mihalovic served with Viterbo President Bill Medland on the committee that created the La Crosse Tribune Extra Effort Award program, which started in 1997. Medland and Mihalovic later worked together to recruit support from the business community so all Extra Effort nominees would receive a monetary award instead of only three getting scholarships.

“I was proud to be a part of that and honored to work with President Medland,” Mihalovic said.

Mihalovic also worked with Medland to establish an annual event at Viterbo honoring area high school students whose community volunteer activities have been exemplary of Viterbo’s Franciscan values.

For Mihalovic, being named an endowed chair is a tremendous honor, but becoming the first William Medland Chair of Educational Leadership elevates that honor for him because he personally knew and tremendously respected President Medland.

“Truly, I am honored and humbled beyond belief, but really this is about the donor and President Medland,” Mihalovic said.

Medland and Mihalovic both have been chosen as the La Crosse Tribune Person of the Year, Medland in 2003 and Mihalovic in 2005.

A La Crosse native who graduated from Central High School in 1977, Mihalovic began his career as an educator as a physical education teacher, first at the elementary level and then at Logan High School. After getting a chance to serve as interim associate principal at Logan High School, Mihalovic saw his future in educational leadership.

“I enjoyed that interim position so much, seeing the big picture of education, seeing how many more students a strong leader can impact in their school community, that I changed course,” said Mihalovic, whose wife, Polly, earned a Viterbo degree in community medical dietetics in 1986.

Scott Mihalovic and Viterbo education department colleagues

When he came to Viterbo in 2014, he had 28 years of school administrative experience, 26 of those years at Logan. For the past 10 years, he has helped multitudes of educators become school leaders, serving as advisor for every student in the graduate and educational leadership licensure certificate programs, hiring instructors, and keeping everything running, no easy task with licensure cohorts meeting in cities as far flung as Milwaukee, Green Bay, Tomahawk, Middleton, and Eau Claire.

Daisy Figueroa, associate dean of Viterbo’s School of Education, said being named the Medland Chair puts an exclamation point on Mihalovic’s long career as an educational leader.

“I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this recognition than Scott,” Figueroa said. “He has a big heart. He is truly student centered and cares so deeply about the program.”

Considering Viterbo’s roots as a training school for teachers, it’s appropriately poetic that Viterbo’s first endowed chair comes in the area of educational leadership, Figueroa added.

“It definitely will elevate the status of the School of Education,” she said.

Mihalovic will be the first to fill the Medland Chair position and he will set the tone for those to follow, said Tonya Wagner, Viterbo’s vice president for academic affairs and institutional effectiveness.

“The Medland Chair will be a leader of leaders, someone who can equip the next generation of educational leaders with the skills they need to lead in increasingly challenging times,” Wagner said. “The person who fills this role must be somebody who also has a really strong leadership background in service to the community who would then take that to the next level. You really want a transformational leader in education like Scott.”