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Reinvigorated after Spring Break

March 20, 2017

To the UW community:

Good Monday morning! I trust you had a good spring break, and are back on campus refreshed and ready to take on the last eight weeks of the semester. I, too, feel reinvigorated and excited for what will surely be a very busy two months.

In the last several weeks, we have held receptions to honor three recipients of the Staff of the Quarter awards program. This is a program that has been awarded through Staff Senate for several years, with sponsorships from UniWyo Credit Union and other businesses in town. This year my office partnered with Staff Senate to provide a reception for each recipient. I was able to attend two of the three receptions and apologize for missing one when I was out of town. The fourth quarter recipient will be announced soon. Congratulations go out to Judy Yates, office associate for Secondary Education in the College of Education; Bill Kuestner, master technician in Atmospheric Science, College of Engineering and Applied Science; and Andrea Hastings-Arrollo, senior office associate in the Department of Economics and Finance, College of Business. Our staff are important members of the University of Wyoming community and provide critical, front-line services that directly impact students, faculty and, often, the public. I thank these three for their outstanding service -- as I do all staff members.

Before spring break, Tim and I hosted a reception for Charles Blanc and Tristan Surtees of Sans façon. Charles and Tristan were in Laramie last year at the invitation of the Honors Program to talk about the relationship between people and place. At that time, they shared their public art work in the UK, Canada and United States. In turn, this visit inspired community leaders in Laramie, including UW, to think about and plan for public art into the future. Their return visit two weeks ago was to continue the dialogue and planning process. I was not able to attend their public presentation later in the week, but I understand it was inspiring. I look forward to what will come of this public art focus in the future.

You might have read just prior to spring break a message from Human Resources about START. This stands for Supervisory Tools and Requisite Training and will be a required training for all new supervisors. A daylong program, the training will provide supervisors with philosophy on supervision, federal and state regulations, performance management, and staff/employee relations. Once a supervisor has completed this initial training, a second tier will be available called Supervisory Development Institute. This institute includes a deeper dive into a variety of management topics. HR and, more specifically, Jesse Begin, is the contact for these trainings. I am appreciative to HR for initiating these programs. I believe that much like becoming a master teacher and researcher, leadership and management skills are also developed. It is my intent that we invest in the development of our managers and supervisors so that we have strong leadership at every level.

I have shared condolences in two of my past Monday messages, and sadly I continue today in offering my sympathy to family and friends of two students and one employee who passed away these last two weeks. Evan Frost, a senior physiology major from Lovell, and Nathaniel Pieper, a senior mechanical engineering major from Casper, lost their lives just before the start of spring break. It is difficult to lose students -- so young, at the beginning stages of their adult lives. The University of Wyoming was privileged to have been a part of Evan’s and Nathan’s lives. I know I speak for many when I say that they will be deeply missed. On behalf of the university, I extend sympathy to friends and family members.

Sadly, we also offer our condolences on the passing of Debbie Beck. Debbie was a much-loved employee in the College of Education, and our sympathy extends to those who worked closely with Debbie. She will be missed by many. I know many of you are friends and colleagues of Bob, who serves as news director for Wyoming Public Radio. Our condolences to the Beck family.

I wish to congratulate the men’s and women’s basketball teams and coaches for a fine season. I was able to travel to Las Vegas to watch the men and women play in the Mountain West tournament. While both teams had disappointing losses early in the conference tournament, they both were invited to play in postseason tournaments. The women played two games in the NIT tournament, winning their first game against the University of Seattle and losing a thrilling game in overtime to Washington State University on Saturday. The men were invited to the CBI Tournament, winning their first game against Eastern Washington University. They continue tonight, playing the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Best wishes! I also congratulate the wrestling team, which had several members competing in the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in St. Louis. A big congratulations to Bryce Meredith, who finished fourth overall in the 141-pound weight class.

I was able to take a few days off during the early part of spring break and spend time with my brother and sister-in-law in Phoenix. My brother, Mark, is a farmer in South Dakota and, like most farmers, it is hard to get him off the farm. So I felt especially fortunate to spend a few days with them watching spring training baseball games and enjoying some warm Arizona sun.

For over 10 years, I have served as a trustee on the Barry Goldwater Scholarship Board. We meet each March in Washington, D.C., and last week was our annual meeting to approve 2017 Goldwater Scholarship recipients and do other foundation business. The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Sen. Barry Goldwater. By providing scholarships to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering, the Goldwater Foundation helps ensure that the U.S. is producing the number of highly qualified professionals needed in these critical fields. Over the program’s 30-year history, Goldwater Scholarships have been awarded to thousands of undergraduates, many of whom have gone on to distinguished research careers. Last week we approved a list of 230 new scholars. While my term is coming to an end, I feel privileged to have served in this important national scholarship program.

I returned to Laramie to cap off last week, which included several meetings and a quick trip to Cody on foundation-related business. Saturday evening was a highlight for me, when I was a guest of Wendy Sweeny at the Wyoming Football Hall of Fame dinner and program. The event is sponsored by the National Football Foundation and recognizes 12 Wyoming high school seniors who have exceled in football, academics, and school and community service. The foundation also recognized two additional high school students for overcoming adversity and persevering despite significant challenges, and two UW football players. I left feeling utmost respect for these young men -- their work ethic, high performance and outstanding character. And I am happy to report that several of them plan to attend UW next year.

Before I sign off, I want to point you to a couple of important events this week and encourage your participation.

On Tuesday afternoon, we will host the spring faculty and staff meeting from 3-5 p.m. in the Wyoming Union Ballroom. We encourage all to attend, as we will cover several important topics. Of significance will be the presentation of a strategic enrollment management plan for UW. A large task force has been working with a consultant on the plan for much of the academic year. The plan is the result of their work, with much input from Provost Miller, Vice President Axelson and others. In addition, we will provide updates on the strategic plan, the legislative session, the FY18 budget and several other items. The full agenda can be found here.

I also encourage you to look at the full agenda for the March Board of Trustees meeting. The trustees will meet on campus March 22-24, with many important items covered, including a proposal for program fees. The proposal was developed by an initial task force that began its work last summer, and later an implementation committee co-chaired by Rob Godby and Daniel Kerbs. I thank them for many hours of work to bring this proposal forward. This meeting will welcome two new trustees, Kermit Brown and David Fall. Please stop over at the Gateway Center and listen in on some of the discussions!

I also encourage you to fully participate in the interviews for the chief diversity officer. Four individuals are interviewing for this important leadership position to further diversity work at UW. Interviewing begins this week and concludes next week. Please check here for CVs and interview schedules for each finalist. We highly value your participation and feedback on each candidate.

Have a great week!

Laurie Nichols, President

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