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Welcome to Spring Semester 2017

January 23, 2017

To the UW community:

It seems a long time since I wrote a Monday morning message. I welcome each of you to spring semester 2017, and trust that you have had a good semester break. In visiting with many faculty and staff these past few weeks, I know that you have been busy working on research and other non-teaching projects, as well as preparing for the semester. We begin today!

This morning from 10-noon, ASUW President Michael Rotellini and I will welcome students back to campus in the Wyoming Union as we serve cookies and hot chocolate. I did something similar on the first day of spring classes last year as I was visiting campus to begin my transition to UW. I enjoyed meeting and greeting students then, and I thought it could be a tradition we continue this year. Please stop by if you are in the area today.

After a relaxing nine days away from campus during the holiday closure, I returned to campus on Jan. 4 to a packed schedule. Let me highlight just a few of the things I have been up to…

On Jan. 6, I spend the day in Denver meeting key educational leaders in Colorado higher education. I was hosted by Jeff Wasden, president of the Colorado Business Round Table, who scheduled me to meet with: Chancellor Rebecca Chopp, University of Denver; President Carol Carter, CEO of GlobalMindEd; President Becky Takeda-Tinker, CSU Global Campus; and President Bruce Benson, University of Colorado. We also enjoyed lunch with Canadian Consul General Stephane Lessard. It was an informative day where I expanded my network and discussed many key issues to all of us in higher education. I extended an invitation to visit the University of Wyoming where we can share our university and explore further interaction and collaboration. I look forward to what may come of these initial meetings.

Since I am talking about Denver, Tim and I were guests of Trustee Dick Scarlett and his wife, Maggie, at the Citizen of the West dinner and recognition program held in conjunction with the National Western Stock Show. This year’s recipient was John Malone, who has made a significant impact in the Denver area as an employer and philanthropist, and owns ranches throughout the country, one of which is near Saratoga. Baxter Black, a famous cowboy poet, was one of the MCs for the evening and overall, I was very impressed.

And if this isn’t enough Denver, just yesterday Tim and I were guests of the Wyoming Stock Growers at the National Western Stock Show. We attended lunch on the grounds with members of the Stock Growers and Wyoming Legislature. During the afternoon rodeo, several of us had the honor of riding in a stagecoach (very fast) around the rodeo arena as part of Wyoming appreciation day. I am doing many “firsts” as president, and the stagecoach ride was certainly one of these! Another highlight was meeting one of our alums, Paul Andrews, who is president and CEO of the National Western Stock Show. Paul graduated in business and finance, and his son currently attends UW.

The legislative session kicked off nearly two weeks ago with the governor’s State of the State address on Jan. 11. I attended his address in the legislative chambers, where he recognized the University of Wyoming twice in his talk -- first, to discuss the overall role the university plays in the state, and second, to lift up the Science Initiative and discuss its importance in preparing our students for critical STEM careers. Congratulations to UW student Logan Jensen and Professor Chip Kobulnicky, who were recognized. The governor discussed his budget and encouraged the Legislature to use “rainy day” funds to balance the biennium budget. He also recommended two supplemental budget requests for the university. One would allow us to develop a strategic enrollment plan for the university, and the other recommended one-time funds for the Science Initiative.

With Provost Miller and Vice President Boswell, I also attended the legislative dinner sponsored by the Wyoming Business Alliance on Jan. 10. The alliance presented its first Wyoming Ethics Award to Dave Bonner of Powell, a UW distinguished alum.

And if this isn’t enough Cheyenne, I also spent all day Jan. 12 there, where I gave the key address to the state Superintendent Policy Summit, and another keynote to the opening session of the Wyoming Association of Municipalities conference. I also attended the ribbon cutting at LCCC for the college’s new Pathway building. The building is beautifully designed to be a “one stop” center for students to register, enroll, pay, secure academic advising, and otherwise attend to their college needs. UW is housed on the fourth floor and can provide a seamless transfer for students who wish to continue their education. In addition, UW Extension has moved to LCCC and is housed in this building. I enjoyed the ceremony and touring the new facility. Congratulations to President Joe Schaefer and LCCC!

Last week, the UW trustees met on campus and dealt with a number of policy and financial issues. Highlights included a dinner/discussion with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and committee chairs on Thursday evening, and approving Tara Evans as permanent general counsel for UW. Tara has been serving in this role as interim since last August and before that was deputy counsel. You will see a news release on this action today. I congratulate Tara and look forward to working with her in this permanent capacity.

Throughout the past couple of weeks, I have had the privilege of serving as honorary coach at a UW/Colorado School of Mines swimming and diving meet, and at a UW/South Dakota State wrestling meet. I also attended the UW Cowgirls’ basketball game against San Jose State last week. Congratulations to all of our student-athletes who represent us so well.

As I conclude this weekly communication, I would like to highlight the UW Cultural Programs directed by Janelle Fletcher. A full list of spring Cultural Programs events can be found here: The lineup of programs looks amazing -- next up is the Escher String Quartet on Feb. 3.  I hope you can attend at least one of these.

And I also point you to the Martin Luther King Jr. Days of Dialogue schedule, which begins one week from today. This is an important series of discussions and events to highlight the value we place on diversity and making our campus an inclusive and welcoming place for all. I look forward to attending several of these events and encourage you to do the same.

I conclude by recognizing and thanking the UW ROTC Cowboy Battalion members, who marched in formation 1.5 miles on Dec. 9 to the Laramie Soup Kitchen, carrying over 5,000 pounds of food and clothing donations -- all collected by them. This was an amazing effort, and I thank both LTC Thomas Haas (Army) and LTC Samuel Shearer (Air Force), leaders of our UW ROTC units, for stressing the importance of community service. UW is an amazing place because of faculty/staff/students who do heroic acts like this. Thank you, ROTC Cowboy Battalion!

Again, best wishes for a successful spring semester. We are off and running! Have a great week.

Laurie Nichols, President

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