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A Renewed Energy on Our Campus

October 10, 2022
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Ed Seidel

By Ed Seidel 

As I write this message for the fall issue of UWyo Magazine, a new group of freshmen has arrived on our beautiful campus for a week of activities before the official start of the fall 2022 semester. In our inaugural Saddle Up program aimed at helping boost student retention, the students are taking part in a variety of activities aimed at preparing them for the challenges of college. Their energy and excitement are contagious.

Just as these students — who help comprise a historically strong first-year UW recruiting class — are embarking on their educational journey with high hopes and aspirations, I couldn’t be more excited for what the new academic year has in store for the University of Wyoming.

With the COVID pandemic largely behind us, we have a sense that the campus is truly coming back to life. And the university community is rallying to fulfill the university’s mission of education, research and service for our state, our nation and the world.

As I have noted in this space before, we are driving the university toward four future directions — UW should become more digital, entrepreneurial, interdisciplinary and inclusive. Sometimes these are called “pillars,” but I’d prefer that we just call them future directions. These are important not only for our institution and state, but, most importantly, for our students. Our students need to learn to have the skills they need to succeed, and to have impact, in a global environment where they will find themselves in the 21st century. These directions all speak to that, and you will find them embedded in the current draft of the university’s new strategic plan, which we are working to complete this academic year.

At the same time, to move in such directions — expected of 21st century land-grant institutions across the nation — we must rebuild UW’s foundations that have been eroded over a decade of budget cuts, administrative changeover, departures and low morale. Important steps have been taken with the first salary increases in several years, along with the creation of new faculty positions. While the salary increases and faculty positions are aimed largely at addressing critical needs, there are 10 new “investing for growth” faculty positions and associated graduate student support aimed at helping us move forward in strategic growth areas.

In spite of our challenges of the last two years, we did make progress on some new initiatives that should enhance our offerings to students, put us in better position to raise external funds and enhance our impact on our state. These include enhancements to the Office of Research and Economic Development to better support our research and economic development capacity, as well as entirely new programs including the new Wyoming Outdoor Recreation, Tourism and Hospitality Initiative, the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and the School of Computing, all of which will impact every college at UW. The Wyoming Innovation Partnership is proceeding well, aligning all of higher education to advance the state — and for which $55 million has been received or earmarked for these programs and others at UW and community college partners across the state.

A major motivator for much of this work is making the university more able to bring in external funding from federal agencies, independent foundations, companies and donors. Not only has our UW Foundation had another great year in fundraising, but we also are working hard to make better use of the funds we have, and we are gearing up for new fundraising efforts ranging from arts, humanities and social sciences to traditional areas of fundraising.

Regarding federal funding, there is great news. Congress recently passed the Chips and Science Act that will add very significant, once-in-a-generation funding to federal agencies including the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, NASA and the Department of Commerce, with specific call-outs for dramatically increasing support for rural areas such as Wyoming. It is a tectonic shift in funding vehicles, and we are working hard to be ready for these new opportunities.

With all this as a starting point, I am so looking forward to the new academic year and to working with all UW supporters as we embark on building a strong future for the university and the state. 

Ed Seidel is the president of the University of Wyoming

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