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Fall Commencement is Here

December 5, 2016

To the UW community:

This week marks the last week of the regular class schedule for fall 2016 semester. We conclude the week with fall commencement. There will be two ceremonies, one Friday afternoon at 4 graduating Arts and Sciences, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Haub School and interdisciplinary programs. The second ceremony will be Saturday morning at 10 graduating students from Business, Education, Engineering and Health Sciences. Commencement speakers will be Dave Bonner, publisher of the Powell Tribune (Friday), and Justice William Hill (Saturday). Both ceremonies will take place in the Arts and Sciences auditorium. Preceding commencement on Friday in the Red House, honors graduates will present their senior projects. Please help me in conveying congratulations to our fall semester graduates!

We learned good news last week when InMotion Software LLC indicated it will open an office in Laramie. A major reason for this decision is Jim Caldwell, department head of Computer Science, who has forged a strong partnership with InMotion, including potential internships and career placement opportunities. InMotion was also impressed with the amenities offered by Cirrus Sky Technology Park, where it plans to locate. I believe it is critical to Wyoming’s future that we continue to facilitate technology startups and company expansions such as InMotion Software. Thank you, Dr. Caldwell and Computer Science, for helping make this happen!

I congratulate two of our Creative Writing faculty members who have brought national attention to the University of Wyoming. These include Brad Watson, who wrote Miss Jane, a book that became a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction. Miss Jane was also recently reviewed in the Irish Times. I just finished reading Miss Jane and highly recommend it to you. It is beautifully written and offers a compelling story of a determined young girl who grows up in the Deep South with a physical disability that defines both her character and life. I also commend Alyson Hagy, whose book review of Billy the Kid was recently published in the New York Times. I have also read one of Alyson’s books, Boleto, and was most impressed with the story line and her compelling writing style. Congratulation, Brad and Alyson -- and my acknowledgment and gratitude to the Creative Writing program for the national distinction it brings to our university!

As you know, we are immersed in a series of statewide strategic planning listening sessions. Last week, a group from UW hosted listening sessions in Jackson, Cody, Torrington and Rock Springs. Attendance was strong, averaging about 75 people per session. Like our campus dialogue and listening sessions, we are learning from our alumni and constituents about their perceptions of UW and ideas for our university’s future. I thank Provost Miller, Vice President Boswell, Alyson Hagy, Dean Alexander, Kaila Mills and others who traveled with me to conduct these listening sessions. This week, we continue with six more listening sessions in Riverton and Casper (Monday), Cheyenne (Tuesday), Laramie (Wednesday), and Gillette and Sheridan (Thursday).

Last Monday, I also had the opportunity to travel to Douglas and Lusk to meet with alumni, visit the high schools in both communities, and have an opportunity to stop by media and Extension offices. A morning coffee was held at the Douglas campus of Eastern Wyoming College, a beautiful new facility. There I met with community leaders and legislators and had the opportunity to talk about the university. It was a most enjoyable day.

Because United Way of Albany County is such an important resource for this community, I wanted to provide an update on the United Way drive. According to Executive Director Paul Heimer, this year’s goal for UW is $113,500; currently about $40,000 has been raised. At this same time last year, UW contributions were at $45,000, so donations are slightly behind this year. Like UW, many of the United Way agencies have taken budget reductions, making this year’s fund drive even more important. If you have not already given, I encourage you to consider a donation to United Way.

Yesterday we learned that UW will be in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego on Dec. 21, playing old rival Brigham Young University. The Cowboy Joe Cub is initiating a crowd-funding effort beginning this afternoon (Monday) to help sponsor members of the Western Thunder Marching Band and assist with their cost to the bowl game. Be sure to check your email for information regarding this exciting campaign. And best wishes to both the Cowboy football team and Western Thunder Marching Band as they prepare for this bowl performance.

Tim and I enjoyed the opportunity to host two holiday parties at our home last week. On Monday, we shared a lovely evening with leaders of our campus including the vice presidents and deans and their guests. Beyond great food and conversation, we also enjoyed music from a UW jazz ensemble, and caroling by The Betty’s (UW female a cappella vocal group). Wednesday evening was equally enjoyable, when we hosted ASUW student leaders for holiday dinner and conversation.

I congratulate conductor Ben Markley and the Wyoming Jazz Ensemble and singers for their Holiday Stomp last night at Altitude Chophouse. Many favorite holiday songs were performed in a dinner club atmosphere. It was truly a delightful evening. This week we look forward to the UW Symphony’s holiday spectacular and the Theatre and Dance performance of Women Playing Hamlet.

Finally, I end my weekly message by inviting each of you to the campus/community holiday celebration on Thursday from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Gateway Center. Please stop by for food, holiday festivities including Santa, cookie decorating, hot chocolate bar, musical entertainment by several UW vocal groups, tree lighting, a hay ride and fellowship with others from campus and the community. Tim and I look forward to wishing you a happy holiday!

Have a great week!

Laurie Nichols, President

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