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A Greater Love

The Story of Don and Margaret Boyd


This is a love story.  

In fact, it is one of the most compelling love stories to have happened at the University of Wyoming—a story you’ve likely never heard. It is a story of grit, of secret lives, of giants. It’s about being called to something greater than yourself. At its core, this is a Wyoming love story that merits to be told and retold again. And it begins in Colorado.  

In 1956, Colorado native Margaret Sitzman set out on her own to build a life in Laramie, pursuing her career as a Home Economics professor. Her friends and family were deeply concerned about her move to their rival state. After all, living in Wyoming is not without effort. Wyoming is rougher, more rigorous than its greener neighbor. It takes heart. It takes an unbreakable spirit to settle in the Cowboy state—a spirit much like Margaret Sitzman’s.

In that same year, a kind and sharp-witted intellectual named Dr. Donald Boyd joined UW’s Geology department. Also new to Wyoming, Don decided to attend a faculty mixer where he and Margaret met for the first time. Don described himself as “smitten” upon seeing her. Neither of them could have known it at the time, but this moment would forever change the trajectory of the University of Wyoming.

They were married one year later. The two faculty members built a partnership that was focused on facilitating and empowering those around them. Individually, they pursued remarkable careers. Together, they impacted the university in a way that is unparalleled.

Dr. Boyd was an active researcher and passionate educator. Much of his paleontological work was published by the American Museum of Natural History. His research led him to pursue fieldwork on six continents. He mentored 52 graduate students and taught courses in historical geology, invertebrate paleontology, and various aspects of sedimentary geology.

Margaret taught in food and nutrition and served as coordinator of the dietetics program. She co-authored the book Baking and Cooking at High Altitudes, which was published by the UW Agriculture Experiment Station in 1961. The publication furthered food science, examining ingredient reactions on a cellular level. She would eventually become the head of the Home Economics department.

Both were highly respected faculty members. Dr. Boyd received the Standard Oil Foundation Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching, the UW College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Former Faculty Award, and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Grover E. Murray Memorial Distinguished Educator Award. Margaret was named the Mortar Board’s Outstanding Faculty Member. Together, they received the University of Wyoming Trustees Award of Merit.

The couple is responsible for advancements across campus. Dr. Boyd was essential to the creation of the UW Honors College (formerly the Honors Program). In 1988, he was appointed as the program’s director. Throughout his career, he helped elevate the UW Department of Geology and Geophysics into the academic powerhouse it is today. The couple also provided years of financial support to the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Scholarship opportunities were a focal point for the Boyds. In 2001, they established the Geology Excellence Fund and the Department of Family of Consumer Sciences Endowment.

Don and Margaret rose to become UW faculty giants. They touched countless lives throughout their careers. Although their resources were considerable, they chose to live modestly and devote their time and energy to their love of teaching and academic research. For them, there was no greater joy than to guide their students and follow their students’ successes. It was this focus that led them to a lifetime of support of the University of Wyoming, as well as to countless other personal and charitable causes. However, nobody knew of the Boyds’ immense generosity during their lifetimes.

“Don and Margaret’s legendary careers at UW were marked each day by humility,” says Ben Blalock, president and CEO of the UW Foundation. “They never sought to draw any attention to themselves. It was their depth of care for students that so beautifully defined Don and Margaret.”

In 2012, Margaret passed away after a valiant battle with cancer. To honor his wife, Dr. Boyd continued the eff orts he and Margaret had led during their time together. Don passed away in April 2020 at the age of 92. Upon their request, the sum of their giving will never be disclosed publicly.

Don and Margaret’s generosity extended beyond their monetary support. It is impossible to measure the magnitude of their giving or the depth of their love for the University of Wyoming. However, each time we tell the story of how a brilliant trailblazer from Colorado caught the eye of the beloved geology professor at a late-summer party, we certainly feel that love still today.

 

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