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Budget Preparation, Successful Symposium, Student Honors and More

April 16, 2018

To the UW community:

Good Monday morning!     

Once again, I begin this week’s message with several congratulations.

Congratulations to Andrew Thornton, junior theater major who Saturday night participated in the National Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Auditions at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Andrew was selected for two national awards. The first is a $4,500 scholarship to study at the Stella Adler Art of Acting Television and Film Intensive in Los Angeles this summer. He was also selected as a prestigious Shakespeare Company Acting Fellow, where he has been cast in Romeo and Juliet, and Richard III in the main season at the Shakespeare Company, under the final year of tutelage with director Michael Kahn. Andrew will be a full company member, receiving salary and housing for the season.

Congratulations are also in order for Jared Mohr-Levia, junior theater major and Andrew's scene partner. He was award the sole national Kingsley Colton Best Scene Parter Award and received a $500 scholarship.

I also congratulate Germaine Wagner of the Wyoming Geographic Alliance, an educational outreach component of the UW Geography Department supported by a grant through National Geographic. Germaine is the 2018 recipient of the Outstanding Support for Geography Education Award from the National Council for Geographic Education! This award honors those who have made extraordinary commitments to the teaching and learning of geography while working outside of the classroom. Germaine will be honored at the National Council for Geographic Education annual meeting Aug. 6 in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

The Board of Trustees held its monthly meeting last Wednesday morning via conference call. The agenda was fairly light and included final review of the 2018-19 fee book, discussion of budget considerations as we propose the FY19 budget, approval of several contracts, and discussion of the trustees’ July retreat, which will be held in Cody. This was the final meeting with John MacPherson as president; at the conclusion of the meeting, he turned leadership over to incoming President Dave True. The May meeting will include President True making a series of committee appointments and introduction of new ASUW, faculty and staff senate leaders.

ASUW elections begin today and continue through Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. I encourage students to vote! Having strong student representation is very important to the university and provides students a voice in many important discussions and decisions. To vote, go to

Last week, I concluded meeting with all divisions and colleges to go over FY19 budget requests. With these completed, I have been working closely with the budget office to develop the FY19 budget request which will be sent to the trustees’ budget committee this week. Budget meetings will be held on May 7-8 and are open to the public. At these meetings, unit leaders (dean, vice president or other unit leader) will present their proposed budgets to the budget committee and answer questions. This is the first budget prepared in our new WyoCloud environment and, with this budget, all sources of funds have been included, such as state block grant, tuition, program and other fees, foundation dollars and other designated funds. In our first year in this new budget environment, we have learned a great deal to improve the process in future years. Nonetheless, it was a good first effort in developing a robust budget for the forthcoming fiscal year. 

Last Tuesday, we held our annual spring town-hall meeting, where many reports and updates were provided on topics such as implementation of WyoCloud and HCM (HR system), task force reports on salary policy and engagement, regulation and policy revision progress, creating of a facilities council, branding/marketing campaign, diversity update, and reports on a capacity study and master housing plan. It you were not able to attend or view on WyoCast, you can still catch the meeting at this link. A big thank you to those who presented updates at the meeting and those who attended. 

Another event last Tuesday was the library author event featuring Kathy Reichs, who is an author and forensic anthropologist. She provided what I understand was an outstanding public lecture on her “Bones” book/TV series. Tuesday evening at a library advisory committee-hosted dinner, she provided comments on her thoughts about libraries and then took questions from the audience on her books. It was a lovely evening, and many from across campus and the community enjoyed the opportunity to support UW Libraries. 

Last week was also the Shepard Symposium on Social Justice, where many sessions and speakers were showcased. I had the opportunity to hear Judy and Dennis Shepard provide the keynote on Thursday afternoon to a packed house. It was 20 years ago when the tragedy involving Matthew Shepard occurred. Listening to their reflections on the murder of their son, along with advocacy work since then, was both emotional and moving. I was especially impacted by a comment Judy Shepard made: “I am motivated by anger over what occurred to Matt, but not hatred.” Following their keynote, I was honored to host a reception for Judy and Dennis Shepard, the committee and others from the campus who work tirelessly on social justice issues. 

I thank the Shepard Committee, and especially Christy Boggs and Michelle Jarman, for their enduring work to chair the Shepard Symposium, giving so much of their time and passion for social justice. 

Thursday morning, I had the opportunity to host WICHE President Joe Garcia on campus. Joe joined our weekly Executive Team meeting to talk to senior leadership about WICHE programs and strategic initiatives. After that, Dr. Garcia and I spoke to an undergraduate class, Sociology of Education. Joe presented on educational inequity and demographical changes occurring in higher education in America. I followed by presenting on a state perspective of higher education, such as Wyoming’s challenges with educational attainment, funding of higher education, cost to attend college and student debt. Both Joe and I enjoyed our time with students and talking about topics about which we care deeply. 

At the invitation of Mary Garland, Ben Blalock and I joined the Ellbogen Foundation Board for lunch on Friday and had the opportunity to visit about our strategic plan, strategic priorities for UW and private funding successes, and to answer questions they had about our budget reduction and current funding status. I appreciate the support we receive from the Ellbogen Foundation across a wide variety of topics, from teaching/learning to youth development to social justice concerns, and more. They truly enable us to reach margins of excellence! 

This week, I will travel to Washington, D.C., with a small delegation from UW to strengthen federal relations and visit several embassies to forge stronger relations so we might increase international student recruitment. I will report more about this trip next Monday. 

The Engagement Task Force report is nearing completion and will soon be available for review. The task force plans a listening session to accept feedback on the draft report on Wednesday, April 25, from 3:10-5 p.m. in the Classroom Building Room 215. Please mark your calendar. 

We are in the busiest time of the academic year as we enter the final four weeks of the semester.  I would love to point out every campus event for your consideration -- but rather, let me point you to the university calendar and encourage you to review the vast variety of events scheduled in these final weeks. 

Have a great week! 

Laurie Nichols, President

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