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Lectures, Presentations and Much More

April 2, 2018

To the UW community:

Good Monday morning!    

I hope you had a nice Easter weekend. We were delighted to have Jordan, our oldest daughter, in Laramie for the weekend. It went too fast, but our time together was wonderful. This week we welcome April and, hopefully, spring weather. It is hard to believe that only six weeks remain in the semester.

Last Monday, I had the opportunity to meet with the Center for Global Studies (CGS) external advisory board to provide updates on the university and learn about future directions for the CGS. The Center for Global Studies also sponsored “Wyoming Goes Global” with faculty and student fellows research presentations, posters, and a reception on Monday evening. I enjoyed the opportunity to hear a couple of graduate students’ presentations involving research in Germany and New Zealand.

Monday afternoon was a treat for many of us who attended the George Rentschler Distinguished Visiting Lecture, where the Honorable M. Margaret McKeown delivered “Do Trees Still Have Standing?” Her talk involved a topic she has been researching for some time -- the environmental legacy of Justice William O. Douglas and the Wyoming Muries. Judge McKeown is a ’72 graduate of the University of Wyoming, a 2017 distinguished alumna and currently serves as a U.S. circuit judge of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The talk was well researched and provided an interesting connection between the late Mardy and Olaus Murie of Teton County, and Supreme Court Justice Douglas.

A final and very fun Monday evening event was celebrating fraternity-sorority life at UW. Monday night was a Family Feud challenge among chapters, and I had the honor of being the faculty rep on “Team Zeus.” While my contributions were minimal (at best), it was a fun evening with many laughs. The celebration of Greek life continued all week with events held each evening. I thank our students who are involved in this aspect of UW, as it offers a strong network of support and many opportunities to develop leadership skills.

Tuesday evening, I had the opportunity to speak to ASUW senators as I recapped the year, talked about our strategic plan and highlighted initiatives underway to drive the plan. A robust Q&A followed my presentation and left me very impressed with our senators’ level of knowledge and engagement with our campus.

Wednesday morning, a large crowd enjoyed a ‘70s-themed 2018 Staff Recognition Day at the Gateway Center. In just two years, I have come to appreciate the importance of this event, as we thank our more than 1,400 staff members who give so much to our university on a daily basis. Nearly 150 employees were honored for five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 or 35 years of service. In addition, staff awards were presented in a number of categories, such as outstanding staff, inspirational staff, unsung hero, skilled crafts, supervisor of the year and the “golden gloves” award. The program ended with recognition of the quarterly employees and Shawn Sheen receiving Employee of the Year. I send my congratulations to all staff members who were recognized, as well as award recipients. A final thank you to Jennie Hedrick and her committee who planned the event. It was well done and much fun!

Wednesday afternoon, I had the opportunity to attend the lecture provided by Dr. Toshihiro Nakayama, who was sponsored by Denver-based Japanese Consul-General Hirakoba. Dr. Nakayama is a professor of American politics and foreign policy at Keio University in Japan and delivered an informative talk about Japan’s adaptation to Trump’s America on the world stage.

Wednesday concluded with the College of Business hosting the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance Business After Hours in the college’s beautiful atrium. A large crowd attended, and many expressed their appreciation to be in this space and interact with a number of faculty and staff from the College of Business.

From there, it was home to participate in the Honors College Literary Circle, where the featured book was our own Nina McConigley’s “Cowboys and East Indians.” The students enjoyed the opportunity to hear from this author about meanings behind the collection of short stories as well as the writing process itself.

Thursday evening, Tim and I had the opportunity to host newly appointed Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Lynne Boomgaarden and her husband, Rick. Justice Boomgaarden was sworn into her post on March 13 and just assumed her seat on the bench. Lynne is a graduate of UW, a talented professional and a positive role model to women. I am honored to know her and congratulation her on this distinguished achievement.

Something that I have come to greatly enjoy is reserving one morning per week (typically) to have coffee with a faculty member, community member or student. This week I enjoyed an early morning coffee meeting with ASUW leaders Ben Wetzel and Janie Welsh to discuss ASUW/university matters. And Friday morning, I learned about our new Sales Center in the College of Business over coffee with Dr. Mark Leach, who directs it. Through these, I have come to know UW better and to appreciate the wonderful students, faculty and staff.

I also enjoyed meeting Shawn Miller, CEO of Green House Data located in Cheyenne, who is expanding the business and working with Steve Farkas and others to deepen their relationship with UW. Beyond discussing our entrepreneurship efforts, we also discussed their ability to recruit UW students into their company.

Beyond these meetings or events, last week was filled with division and college budget meetings. I am currently meeting with all vice presidents, deans and some directors to review their FY19 budget requests. I will continue these throughout this week as we prepare final budget requests for the Board of Trustees to review at the May meeting.

I wish to end by congratulating Mary Aguayo, director of our Transfer Success Center, who wrote a competitive proposal to WICHE (Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education). Mary received word last week that Wyoming was selected to join a WICHE-sponsored multistate task force on closing postsecondary attainment gaps. This means Wyoming will receive consulting support over 20 months as we develop a statewide plan focused on closing educational attainment gaps and achieving a state goal of 67 percent post-secondary attainment. We will partner with fellow recipients Utah and Arizona to shape national best practice in this area, and receive $30,000 per year to support these efforts. Congratulations, Mary and the entire Wyoming team who developed a strong proposal!

Have a great week,

Laurie Nichols, President


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