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Reaching Spring Semester’s Midpoint

March 5, 2018

To the UW community:

Good Monday morning!

This is a big week on several fronts. First, it marks the end of the first half of the semester, and on Friday we begin Spring Break. This week is also the Mountain West Conference basketball tournament in Las Vegas, and I wish both the men and women basketball teams much success. The women’s first game will be on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. Pacific Time, and the men’s first game is Wednesday at 4 p.m. PT. Go Pokes! And this is the final week of the 2018 legislative session; by Saturday we will know the outcome of our biennium budget request, our exception requests including funding for the Science Initiative, and several other bills that have implications for UW.

Last week, Fleet Services and Auxiliary Services began reaching out to divisions, colleges and departments about plans to more efficiently manage our motor pool. If you recall, in FY17 during the budget reduction process, the budget crisis committee recommended we realize efficiencies and savings within our motor pool fleet of at least $75,000 per year. Implementation has been under study during the first half of FY18, and now Fleet Services is ready to move forward with a cost savings plan to reduce the total number of vehicles, while also improving the overall fleet. They are projecting a savings of at least $100,000-$115,000 per year.

To accomplish these savings, about 70 Laramie-based vehicles currently managed by departments or divisions will be consolidated into the centralized motor pool. Ultimately, savings will occur as about 25 high-mileage and older vehicles will be sold, and the fleet will be downsized. Even with this leaning-up of the fleet, demand will be met and fleet service will make available to UW employees vehicles that are newer and more reliable. The current process is considered Phase 1, and in the future Phase 2 will address service vehicles. Be assured that Fleet Services will communicate with departments/units throughout the process to make for a smooth transition. I’d like to thank Carolyn Smith and Shawn Fletcher in Fleet Services for their work in developing a strong plan, and I appreciate everyone’s efforts with implementation.

Chris Boswell, with assistance from Meredith Asay, represents UW during the legislative session and provides this update. The conference committee on the FY 2019-2020 biennial budget met for the first time on Friday and will resume negotiations today in order to reach a compromise between House and Senate positions. In addition, very significant legislation covering capital construction, the governor’s ENDOW economic diversification initiative and other weighty issues are still being worked in both houses, so it’s safe to say bills with great significance to UW have not yet reached anything close to their final versions as of this writing. As negotiations between the two houses proceed, we will continue UW’s visible efforts to make our case during the waning days of this unpredictable session, which is scheduled to conclude this Saturday.

Next Monday, all full-time, benefits-eligible employees will receive an invitation to participate in the Great Colleges to Work For survey. Great Colleges is an independently administered, national survey that measures employees’ quality of workplace engagement and level of workplace satisfaction. The survey will be open from March 12 through April 6. I encourage you to complete the survey once you receive the invitation. It’s completely confidential, only takes 20 minutes to complete and is a great opportunity to make your voice heard. Our results will be shared with the campus community, and an action plan for improving workplace satisfaction at UW will be developed by a steering committee with representation from Staff Senate and Faculty Senate. Information about UW’s participation in the survey is available online at

Last week, about 30 UW theater and dance students and faculty attended the Region VII Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, held at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash. Let me congratulate student award recipients:

-- Andrew Thornton, senior from Riverton, and Jared Mohr-Leiva, senior from Thermopolis, won the Regional Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Award and are now eligible to compete at the national level at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in April. They represent UW as one of only eight pairs of collegiate actors in the United States chosen to participate in the National Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Audition.

-- Jordan Clark, junior from Parker, Colo., was selected as the sole Best Scene Partner for the region.

-- Adrienne True, senior from Cheyenne, was the recipient of a meritorious achievement award in the George R. Caldwell Undergraduate Scholarly Paper Awards for her paper, “TARTUFFE: Breaking of Manners.”

Congratulations, and thank you for representing UW so well!

I’m pleased to announce that negotiations for joint seed funding, in the amount of $40,000, between UW and the Freie Universität Berlin have been finalized. These negotiations began in summer 2017 with the visit of Vice President Klaus Mühlhahn to UW. With this agreement, the University of Wyoming and the Freie Universität Berlin have agreed to establish a seed funding opportunity that is designed to develop close collaboration between FUB and UW faculty and researchers to identify complementary strengths, leverage synergy and promote the development of outstanding future research projects and other academic opportunities. Proposals are due by April 3, and more information may be found at For questions about application procedures, contact Carrie Hesco in the Global Engagement Office. For assistance with establishing new faculty collaborations, contact Jean Garrison in the Center for Global Studies.

Please mark your calendar for Monday, March 19, and plan to attend a special lecture by Dr. Todd Surovell, professor in the Department of Anthropology, who will present his research on “Studying the Present to Learn about the Past:  Gender and Space Among Mongolia’s Reindeer Herders.” The lecture will be held in the Gateway Center at 3 p.m. A reception will follow. The lecture is open to the public, and students are welcome. Please attend!

Let me highlight a couple of events last week worth noting.

Last Friday, the Native American Education, Research and Cultural Center hosted its first soup luncheon and Native American Leadership Speaker Series event. The Honorable Terri V. Smith, chief judge of the Wind River Tribal Court and enrolled member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe, and Leslie Shakespeare, member of the Eastern Shoshone Business Council, presented their compelling stories and perspectives on leadership. The center hopes to make this a monthly event to showcase Native American leaders in our state and region.

I enjoyed the opportunity on Friday evening to attend the recognition and scholarship banquet of the Division of Communication Disorders. An informative presentation by Dr. Erin Bush of her lab’s research projects included highlights of several students who were conducting undergraduate research in the Bush Lab. Dr. Mark Guiberson and students of the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association did a great job of presenting many awards/recognitions and making for an enjoyable evening of celebration. Thank you for including me!

Last Tuesday evening, Mark Jenkins presented another fascinating World to Wyoming program on “Camels, Climbing and St. Catherine:  An Expedition to Egypt.” The presentation highlighted an epic expedition of four Wyoming climbers who were first to climb 1,000-foot walls of shining granite in the heart of the Sinai Peninsula. It was very well attended and, like all of Mark’s photo-rich presentations, it exposed Wyoming to parts of the world that are mostly untraveled and unknown to us. Thanks, Mark!

Saturday morning, I stopped by the pancake fundraiser hosted by the Society of Women Engineers. They were raising money for professional conference attendance and other activities of their RSO. That evening, I attended African Awareness Week’s concluding dinner and program. The food was delicious, and the UW choir, under the direction of Nicole Lamartine, performed three cultural songs that added so much to the program -- they were a hit! The dinner and dance that followed concluded a weeklong series of programs to celebrate African heritage and bring campus awareness to Africa’s history and culture. As I mentioned in my remarks to the audience, international students from Africa represent 10 percent of our international student body, with 81 students from 20 African countries attending UW. We are blessed to have each of them with us, and I thank the Wyoming African Student Association for its work to sponsor this important week.

Last Thursday, Kyle Moore, Shelley Dodd and I had the opportunity to attend the Wyoming Youth of the Year luncheon and finalist competition in Cheyenne. Four Boys and Girls Club members from across the state competed for Youth of the Year, each giving short speeches about their background and the role of the Boys and Girls Club in their life. I congratulate Cat Williams from Casper, who is the 2018 winner and will go on to regional competition. In addition, I presented three Great Futures Gold Standard scholarships to Boys and Girls club seniors to attend UW this fall. This is a new initiative in our emerging partnership with the Wyoming Boys and Girls Club. I enjoyed meeting two of the recipients, both from Cheyenne Central who hope to pursue computer science studies. The third recipient was not able to attend and comes to us from Dubois. Congratulations, students!

As I conclude my message, I wish for all who are traveling during Spring Break a safe journey. I hope everyone can have a little down time and re-energize for what will surely be a very busy final eight weeks of the semester.  I will take a break from my Monday message next week and be back with you on March 19.

Have a great week, and happy Spring Break!

Laurie Nichols, President

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