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Winding Up the Fall Semester

November 28, 2016

To the UW community:

I trust you had a nice Thanksgiving holiday and were able to enjoy some time away from work with family and friends. I mentioned last week that our daughters would be joining us for Thanksgiving. We enjoyed getting caught up on Jordan’s and Hannah’s busy college lives. We also took in some holiday shopping and the Denver Ballet’s spectacular performance of The Nutcracker. After a fun Thanksgiving, it was hard to say goodbye and get them to their departing planes. But, just like us, they must get back to their classes as they wind up their fall semester.

And with Thanksgiving behind us, it reminds us all that the semester is quickly coming to an end. With only three weeks left to the semester, our attention turns to final papers, projects, exams and end-of-semester events.

Last Monday I had the pleasure of spending the day in Evanston. This was a continuation of my visits to Wyoming communities to meet alumni and community leaders, and to promote the university. My day was hosted by Phil Peterson, past president of the Alumni Association. We stopped by the local newspaper for a quick interview, had lunch with community leaders and visited the Evanston branch of Western Wyoming Community College, and Evanston High School. My conversation with the high school principal and counselors yielded a plan to bring Evanston juniors to UW for a campus visit this spring. I also met with UW Extension staff and had afternoon coffee with legislators from Uinta County. My day ended with a lovely late afternoon/early evening reception at the historic and beautifully renovated railroad Roundhouse, where nearly 70 alumni and friends of the university attended. Given Evanston’s proximity to Salt Lake City, it is clear that we must work hard to keep this community connected, and to bring strong students from Evanston High School to UW.

Another fruitful conversation took place on Tuesday, when I spent several hours with Jim Rose, Wyoming Community College Commission, and Jillian Balow, superintendent of public instruction. We discussed common educational issues, including math alignment and early assessment (typically in the junior year) of math readiness; data sharing to better track student progress; and college-going rates of high school graduates. The discussion was informative, and we left with several “to do” items and a commitment to meet again in January. I believe there are great opportunities to better align secondary education, community colleges and UW to make for a seamless educational system. While much work has already been done with community college-UW articulation, I believe there is more work to be done to bring secondary education into the equation and to continue to strengthen the community college relationship. 

I thank the Facilities and Services staff for inviting Tim and me to their Thanksgiving dinner on Tuesday. We enjoyed visiting with many F&S staff and feasting on the delicious potluck dinner featuring not only turkey, but walleye!  Thank you.

And to cap off a perfect day, I was the guest of Drs. Danny Dale and Chip Kobulnicky, Department of Physics and Astronomy, who served as hosts on a tour to Jelm Mountain to see the UW telescope, or WIRO. The scenery was breathtaking, and the tour was highly informative. While I had heard about the telescope, this was my first time to see it. To say that I was impressed is an understatement. What an incredible resource for faculty and students! The afternoon was even more enjoyable, as we also had a prospective graduate student along… I hope we got her recruited! Thanks Danny and Chip for a memorable and informative afternoon.

This week we kick off statewide listening sessions as part of the strategic planning process.  On Wednesday we will be in Jackson and Cody for 90-minute listening sessions in each community. On Friday we continue with trips to Torrington and Rock Springs, again to conduct 90-minute listening sessions in each community. Our plan is to provide a 15-minute overview of the current state of the university, and then open the floor to comments and discussion. We hope for good participation in each community, yielding rich comments and suggestions.

On Sunday we learned exciting news that the University of Wyoming will host the Mountain West Conference football championship game. The Cowboys will take on San Diego State University to play for conference champion. Both teams are coming off tough loses last Saturday, so the desire to win will be very real! The game will be broadcast on ESPN on Saturday, with kickoff at 5:30. Congratulations to the football team and Coach Bohl as they compete for the 2016 conference championship.

Finally, I end by reminding the campus community about two charitable events. First, the holiday food drive sponsored by Staff Senate, which kicks off today. Secondly, UW Giving Day is Tuesday, Nov. 29. Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving and kicks off the charitable season surrounding the holidays. For more information, please go to

Have a great week!

Laurie Nichols, President

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