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First of Weekly Communications

October 31, 2016

To the UW community:

I want to take this time to thank the campus community for hosting me at departmental and unit meetings over the past five months. This week I conclude approximately 100 meetings with faculty and staff where I have tried to talk little -- and listen much. I have learned greatly about our university and feel much better informed and ready to lead and advocate on your behalf. Thank you for taking time to meet with me and to offer information about the interesting and important work you do. In the event that I missed any unit, please call Laura Shevling at 766-4128, and she will schedule. 

One thing that I learned in doing these meetings is that the campus seemed interest in frequent and ongoing communication from me. In thinking about this, I would like to try a Monday morning message where I recap important happenings of the previous week and point to important happenings in the week at hand. Today we begin.

While I have not attended, I have heard that the strategic planning dialogue and listening sessions are going extremely well. Several comments I have heard include, “I am learning so much about UW,” “the perspectives shared by others are very interesting,” and “it is good to see so many open up and share their thoughts and ideas.” I encourage you to check the schedule for this week and attend some of these sessions. Thank you to those who have attended, and those who are facilitating these sessions.

The search for a chief diversity officer has commenced. I asked the search committee that was formed under former President Dick McGinity to continue to serve in this important role. The search committee, under the leadership of David Jones, has drafted a position description and (if they have not already) will be advertising shortly. This is an important position for our campus, and we look forward to hosting finalists on campus sometime during spring semester.

Congratulations to the football team and Coach Bohl who earned a huge win this weekend, 30-28, beating 13th-ranked Boise State. With over 24,000 fans in attendance, this win places the Cowboys in first place in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West Conference. And if this isn’t enough to celebrate, we also broke ground for the new McMurry High Altitude Performance Center at noon on Saturday. The event was attended by over 250 including Governor Mead, the Susie McMurry family and several other donors to this project. Saturday was a great day to be a Cowboy/Cowgirl!   

I had the privilege Sunday morning of hosting about 250 parents and students at Family Weekend brunch. It is always good to host parents and families as they visit campus to support their students. I thank Student Affairs, which oversees Family Weekend and coordinates the Cowboy Parents Council. And thank you, Happy Jacks, for a great performance at the brunch!

While we are on student performance, I want to congratulate the dance students who performed a chilling performance of “Dracula,” and the Collegiate Chorale, which performed stunning songs about silence. I attended both last week and thoroughly enjoyed our talented students in these outstanding performances.

I will meet with the Financial Crisis Advisory Committee (FCAC) today to receive feedback on the FY18 budget reduction plan. The committee has been gathering information on this plan since we presented it at a town-hall meeting on Oct. 12. Once I have this feedback, I will make final plans to present to the trustees at the Nov. 16-18 meeting. I appreciate everyone who has attended FCAC meetings over the past several months and those who have offered input. And mostly, I thank Steve Bieber, chair, and members of the FCAC. They have done a great job with a difficult task.

Related to this, a subcommittee of the FCAC, the Revenue Enhancement Group, has presented a plan for program fees as a way to continue to build academic quality and enhance student success. To some extent, this will allow programs to replace some of the revenue they may have lost in the budget reduction. We are at a point where we need to share the program fee plan with students and gather their feedback. Colleges are scheduling information sessions with their students, and ASUW plans to do something similar for students at large. I thank Rob Godby and the subcommittee that has been working on this for months and has done deep financial analysis to generate this plan.

And finally, I encourage you to attend the events of the “Earth, Wind and Water” series on Wednesday and Thursday evenings at the Berry Center auditorium.

Have a great week!

Laurie Nichols, President

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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