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International Celebrations and a Trip to D.C.

April 23, 2018

As I write this message on Sunday evening, I have just returned from two events. The first was Central Asian Awareness Night and Navruz celebration. Our students from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Tadjikistan did a wonderful job of celebrating their home countries and cultures through dance, music, food and costume. I have come to really appreciate international celebrations like this, where we enjoy the beautiful cultures our students and faculty bring to UW. Thanks to our students who did a spectacular job of sharing the beauty of their countries and cultures from Central Asia!

The second event was hosted by our own Professors Caroline McCracken-Flesher and Paul Flesher, where we raised money for UW in Scotland. Held in their home, the evening included a poetry reading by Alan Riach, chair in Scottish literature at the University of Glasgow. Funds will assist faculty to develop teaching and research in Scotland. Thank you, Caroline and Paul, for nurturing this important international opportunity.

Last week was a week of travel for me. A small delegation of about a dozen individuals from UW traveled to Washington, D.C., to engage in federal-level discussions as well as host alumni and donors from the metro area.

The itinerary on Tuesday and Wednesday was very full and included visits to all three of Wyoming’s congressional offices: Senators Enzi and Barasso and Representative Cheney. Several important meetings were held with federal agencies. Professor Khaled Ksaibati, along with Vice President Synakowski, spent valuable time at the Department of Transportation, while Kip Coddington and Mark Northam from the School of Energy Resources were able to do the same at the Department of Energy. Meredith Asay, Jean Garrison and I visited three embassies: Tunisia, Nepal and Canada, where we introduced the University of Wyoming to each ambassador and discussed strategies to strengthen our recruitment of students from these countries to UW. Finally, through UW alums Chris and Michelle Spear, we enjoyed a lovely alumni reception at the headquarters of the American Trucking Association, where Chris Spear serves as CEO. About 60 attended the reception and had the opportunity to hear directly from three of our students who have studied and conducted thesis researched internationally through the Center for Global Studies. We also enjoyed a smaller dinner on Wednesday evening with several donors and Senators Enzi and Barasso and their spouses.

I thank everyone who took time to be part of this trip. I believe we all returned to campus having felt that much was accomplished in a short span of time.

We are in the midst of several searches for key positions, including the dean of Health Sciences, dean of Business and vice president of finance and administration. Last Friday, I met with the search committee for the vice president for finance and administration and accepted their recommendation to bring four finalists to campus for interviews.  The names and credentials of these four will be announced today, with interviews beginning later this week. I hope you can attend one of the planned sessions and provide feedback to the search committee.

Last Friday, I also had the opportunity to travel to Jackson to attend the opening portion of the third annual Wyoming ESL Conference. Hosted collaboratively by Dr. Jenna Shim of the UW College of Education and Chad Ransom of the Teton County School District, Friday evening included a social time as people registered, dinner, and the opening session where I provided welcoming remarks and Dr. Claude Goldenberg, professor at Stanford, gave the keynote address on “What matters for promoting EL achievement?” The conference has grown and this year attracted some 220 attendees. I enjoy the opportunity to meet K-12 ESL and dual-immersion teachers and participate in a portion of their professional development. Dr. Goldenberg was informative and a highly skilled presenter. Congratulations, Jenna and the College of Education, for this rich outreach effort.

While Saturday was not nearly as nice as Sunday, it was the spring football game where the brown and gold teams competed at War Memorial Stadium. Those in attendance dressed warmly and enjoyed a competitive scrimmage. Prior to the game, I attended the Cowboy Joe Club board meeting and, prior to that, the football alumni gathering where they heard from Coach Bohl and Athletic Director Tom Burman before taking on a game of flag football. It was a fun way for the football program to conclude spring training and allow fans a sneak preview of this fall’s football team.

One other event Tim and I attended on Saturday was the spring formal for AGR fraternity. Tim has served as an adviser to AGR this year, and we were honored to join the members for dinner and an award program. This is a strong group of students, and it was also fun to meet several AGR alumni who returned for the evening -- including one alum who proposed to his (now) fiancée during the evening. It was a fun time.

As we get into the final weeks of the semester, the calendar intensifies and the events keep coming! This week provides a host of opportunities, including the UW rodeo, Entrepreneurship Summit where the Ellbogen $50K winners will be announced, a dance performance titled “Six Songs from Ellis,” and several lectures and speakers. On Wednesday at 4:10 p.m., Dr. Jake Goheen, Department of Zoology and Physiology, provides the Faculty Senate lecture in the Berry Center auditorium. I hope you can attend.

Have a great week!

Laurie Nichols, President

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