Following the untimely death of Chancellor Lydecker, former vice-chancellor Virgil Nylander stepped out of a brief retirement to become interim chancellor until a replacement could be found. Nylander joined the university as a professor of psychology in 1969 and served as assistant chancellor for administration for 16 years before departing in December of 2003.
During his tenure as interim chancellor, Nylander oversaw the campus during another tight budget cycle. This era also saw the sudden passing of history professor Ed Peterson. The venerable Peterson was in his fifty-first year in front of a UW-River Falls classroom.
During this time, academic and social endeavours flourished. Organizations such as the Asian American Club and the Society for Undergraduate Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity increased their profiles. More community outreach programs and professional certification programs began to emerge.