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Happy to Be on the Job!

May 19, 2016

To members of the UW community:

I’m delighted to be on board at the University of Wyoming! It has been a bit of a whirlwind since I officially began my duties on Monday morning, but I have enjoyed every minute so far. I’m so looking forward to meeting many more of you and learning more about this wonderful institution and this great state.

For the next several months, I plan to meet individually with academic departments and campus units. Those meetings start today. I also expect to spend a couple of days a week traveling around the state to learn everything I can, meet the people of Wyoming and hear their thoughts and desires for the state’s university. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I was in the Big Horn Basin. Next week, I’ll be in Casper and Gillette.

It won’t come as a surprise that I also have been spending a considerable amount of time getting up to speed on the university’s budget challenges. In light of Gov. Matt Mead’s directive that $35 million be reduced from UW’s state appropriation for the 2017-18 biennium -- on top of a $5.8 million reduction resulting from action during the 2016 legislative session -- there’s no question we have our work cut out for us.

I and members of my administration have nearly settled on plans to tackle that challenge. And because I intend for inclusiveness and transparency to be a hallmark of my presidency, we will share those plans with the university community in a town-hall meeting next week. You’ll have the choice of two sessions: Wednesday, May 25, from 3:30-5 p.m., or Thursday, May 26, from 9-10:30 a.m. Both will take place in the Wyoming Union ballroom. I have granted 90 minutes of release time for UW employees to each attend one session; please work with your supervisor on scheduling to ensure the effective and efficient operation of your unit.

During the meetings, we will explain the scope of the reductions the university faces, as well as the short-term and long-term approaches we intend to use to achieve them. We will outline the principles that will guide the decision-making process. And we will do our best to answer your questions -- I’m sure there will be many.

If you’re unable to attend in person, you can view the meetings on the WyoCast system. We’ll provide the link in a later communication.

I certainly understand the concerns across campus about the potential impacts of reductions of this magnitude. I experienced a similar budget reduction at my previous university, so I know that there definitely will be some pain. But I also know that it is possible for an institution to go through significant reductions and come out even stronger, as a result of prioritization and innovative thinking. I and my administration are committed to making sure that is the case at UW.

We also are open to suggestions and ideas from across the university and beyond; you can share those with me by emailing uwpres@uwyo.edu.

Meanwhile, I hope many of you will take the opportunity to participate in the public forums for the provost/vice president for academic affairs finalists this week and next.

In spite of the challenges we face, I couldn’t be more excited and hopeful about the future of this great university. I’m committed to maintaining and building excellence, as I’m sure are all of you. I’m confident we have the ability, by working together, to make it through difficult times and emerge as strong and vibrant as ever.

On a personal note, my husband, Tim, will join me here at UW in August, after he wraps up commitments in South Dakota. We are in the process of purchasing a home in Laramie and look forward to becoming a part of the community.

I understand it has been a long, wet, cool spring here on the high plains, but the campus is beautiful, and the weather has been great since I arrived! (As if I had something to do with it.) I’m looking forward to a productive and positive summer.


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