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A Good Visit to Northern Wyoming

November 27, 2017

To: the UW community 

Good Monday morning. 

As we usher in this week, we also conclude November and welcome the final month of 2017 on Friday, Dec. 1. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving holiday and were able to enjoy good food and the company of family and friends. As I mentioned last week, we had a houseful, with relatives converging in Laramie from the East and West Coasts as well as South Dakota. We had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner and then enjoyed movies, shopping downtown Laramie and soaking in the warm weather with a few hikes. Today we say our final goodbye to my sister, and then it is back to work! 

As I write this, I have just returned from watching the UW Cowboys defeat the New Mexico Highlands Cowboys 83-70. It was my first opportunity to watch the men play this season. They are off to a strong start, having placed second in the Grand Cayman Islands Classic. Congratulations, Cowboys! 

Last Monday and Tuesday were spent traveling the north and northwest portions of the state, including Sheridan, Powell, Lovell and Greybull. I traveled to Sheridan to meet with board members of two foundations: Whitney Benefits Foundation and Watt Foundation. I also appeared before the Sheridan Chamber of Commerce Legislative Forum to present our strategic plan and address our biennium budget. From there, it was off to an alumni reception sponsored by our own Alumni Association. With nearly 100 attending, it was a wonderful opportunity to update those attending about UW, share our five-year goals and address specific questions from the audience. 

From there, Trustee Michelle Sullivan, VP Chris Boswell, Dr. Danny Dale and I hosted our first legislative dinner. With five area legislators in attendance, we presented our biennium budget request and specifically shared detailed information on the Science Initiative. The format was conversational, with everyone contributing specific portions of the agenda. The legislators asked good questions and indicated that the information was most helpful to them. We left feeling positive about our first legislative meeting. Legislative dinner No. 2 will be held this week in Caper.  

Tuesday morning, we departed Sheridan for Powell, where I was hosted by Associate Dean Bret Hess to tour the Powell Research and Extension Center. I appreciate the opportunity to meet the faculty and staff, to tour the facility, and to learn more about their work, particularly the seed lab and seed certification lab. Thank you for an informative tour! 

From there, we traveled to Big Horn County/Lovell to host an alumni luncheon at a local café. With about 20 in attendance, I had the opportunity to visit with Senator Peterson and meet Lovell school district administrators, including the superintendent and high school and middle school principals. 

Then it was on to Greybull to visit the high school, hosted by Principal Ty Flock. We toured the school, met several teachers and students, and had the opportunity to discuss recruitment of students from Greybull to UW as well as scholarships, dual and concurrent enrollment courses, and several other topics. It was a most enjoyable afternoon! 

We concluded our trip with an alumni reception in Greybull, where about 40 alums chatted and heard from me -- again on UW updates and plans for the future. It was clear that Wyoming citizens appreciate our visits to their small communities, where we can see, firsthand, their communities, schools and other unique features. 

Sprinkled in with these travels were several meetings, and I would like to report on a couple that may be of interest. 

A small group met to begin discussion of administering the Great Colleges survey.  There will be much more information forthcoming on this, but the working group included representation from Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, HR and the provost’s office. We agreed to review the survey, look into possibilities for some customization and begin to think about a plan for strong campus communication. The Great Colleges survey is a comprehensive job satisfaction survey owned by the Chronicle of Higher Education and administered to hundreds of universities and colleges each spring. We hope to use this as a tool to gain feedback on a number of dimensions of UW so as to identify strengths and areas for improvement. More to come on this soon. 

Another meeting was to prepare for the Dec. 11-12 ENDOW Steering Committee meeting which will be held at UW. We will have time on the agenda to present several economic development opportunities for which UW can provide strong leadership. Greg Hill, a UW alumnus, co-chairs ENDOW planning with the governor and provided helpful feedback to us as we prepare our presentation. 

Two other planning meetings were held around the National Western Stock Show -- particularly our exhibit hall booth, where we will showcase the university to thousands of people who tour the trade show area. I also met with several about a visit to Wind River this coming Friday, when we will present to the legislative Select Committee on Tribal Relations, visit Wyoming Indian High School and meet with the Northern Arapaho Business Council on an endowed scholarship held at the UW Foundation and offered to students from their tribe. 

This, then, provides background on several meetings and events this week. No doubt it will be another busy one! 

As we move into December, you will see many holiday concerts, performances, parties and holiday gatherings scheduled in the next three weeks. One that I want to get on your calendar is the UW/Laramie community holiday open house and tree lighting at the Gateway Center. You will find something for every age, including a hay ride with Pistol and Pete, photos with Santa, holiday serenades from our own student performers, and many fun holiday activities. Please stop by on Wednesday, Dec. 6, from 4-7 p.m., with the tree lighting at 6:30 p.m. I hope to see you there.     

With that, I wish you a great week! 

Laurie Nichols, President

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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