Skip to Main Content

Apply Now to the University of Wyoming apply now

Q&A: College of Education Dean Scott Thomas

January 24, 2022
man standing outside
Scott Thomas in front of the Education Building.

In July, Scott Thomas became the first John P. “Jack” Ellbogen Dean of the University of Wyoming’s College of Education. Last year, the John P. Ellbogen Foundation provided the gift to establish the endowed deanship, the first of its kind at UW. Thomas’ past roles include dean of the University of Vermont’s College of Education and Social Services and dean of the School of Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University, where he also served as vice president of strategy and academic planning. He holds a Ph.D. in education policy, leadership and research methods from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His areas of expertise include higher education finance, policy and organizations; the sociology of education; and statistical modeling.


What drew you to this deanship?

First, UW is the only university in the state. The College of Education has a very central role in Wyoming. It presents a level of responsibility that you won’t find in any other state. The state’s small population also speaks to my interest in rural education and college opportunity. The network of seven (soon to be eight) community colleges round out Wyoming’s higher-education system and provide opportunities for outreach and a set of pathways to higher education.

The state’s investment in endowed chairs in literacy, science and math education is huge, as are the Trustees Education Initiative and Wyoming School-University Partnership. The significant prestige and resources realized through the generous endowing of this position provide a potent catalyst for these valuable assets. Taken together, these resources create a rich potential for innovation and entrepreneurialism in the college and across Wyoming. These features also provide a robust portfolio for advancing student learning and education excellence in the state.


What are your goals as dean?

Wyoming’s public education system should be second to none by 2030. My first and primary goal is to support the college in our shared goal of preparing exceptionally skilled educators for Wyoming schools. The goal is to prepare new teachers and educational leaders who will start out strong, produce positive outcomes for their students and grow in their profession across time.

We’re a land-grant research university, so it’s important that this work is research-informed and applied widely throughout the state. It also needs to be continually assessed and improved to assure we’re meeting the needs of students, families and communities across Wyoming. I think through this our impact will be more powerful across Wyoming while elevating our national distinction as a college.

This only happens through the outstanding students, faculty and staff that form our college community. It’s essential that we find new ways to support their great work while continuing to encourage their smart ideas and ambitions.


What do you love about Wyoming?

First, our deep sense of community. Second, I know Wyomingites pride themselves on independence. I appreciate that our independence is based on a tight network of relationships and trust.

I also love the wide-open spaces and no traffic. I’m an outdoor nut, so excellent skiing, road biking, mountain biking, a ton of other year-round outdoor activities are real pluses. Those are some of the reasons I love being here.

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
UW Operators (307) 766-1121 | Contact Us | Download Adobe Reader

Accreditation | Virtual Tour | Emergency Preparedness | Employment at UW | Privacy Policy | Harassment & Discrimination | Accessibility Accessibility information icon