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A Great End to the Academic Year

May 14, 2018

To the UW community:

Good Monday morning!

Congratulations on completing the academic year! We ended the semester on a high note, as finals were completed and a host of graduation ceremonies and celebrations were held. Today we begin summer and all that it holds in store.

Thank you to all who participated in commencement on Saturday. With more than 1,600 students participating in a total of four ceremonies, and thousands of family and friends in attendance, it was a great day. I send out a special thank you to everyone who worked so hard to plan and oversee the new commencement ceremony plan of two undergraduate, one graduate and College of Law ceremonies. I expect that the committee will debrief the weekend and is open to feedback and suggestions.

I also congratulate our two honorary degree recipients: Maggie Scarlett, who received a Doctor of Humane Letters, and Neltje, who received a Doctor of Arts. Both have contributed significantly to Wyoming in their tireless advocacy for the arts, historical preservation and economic development.

Many graduation-related events were held last week, and I had the opportunity to participate in several of them. On Thursday, a group of faculty, administrators and trustees traveled to Casper to participate in the UW-Casper graduation celebration. Sixty-five graduates from UW-C were recognized and received their diplomas. Jacob Huston, a medical laboratory sciences graduate, delivered the commencement address. It was a fun event, and I thank the UW-C faculty/staff who organized this event.

On Friday, many program- and college-specific graduation events were held. I had the opportunity to stop by the Veterans Services Center’s 2018 Military Connected Graduation, where 24 students were recognized. From there, it was on to the Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing’s 16th annual convocation, where DNP candidate Nichole Taylor delivered the address and graduates from several nursing programs were pinned or recognized. This includes the DNP program, Basic BSN, BRAND (accelerated BSN) and BSN completion programs. The Arts and Sciences auditorium was packed, and it was fun to watch the proud families.

I also had the opportunity to attend the graduation program for our graduating Native American students, with 14 graduates honored. A large group gathered to celebrate the success of these students, and the honoring ceremony could not have been nicer.

Friday evening, I hosted a commencement dinner at the Gateway Center to recognize our honorary degree recipients, student and faculty awards, and retirement recognitions. The trustees also awarded two Trustee Awards of Merit to VPs Chris Boswell and Bill Mai. I congratulate those who were recognized at this event:

-- Sophia Kwende and Gabe Selting, Spitaleri and Tobin outstanding senior student awards.

-- Michele Bird, UW Alumni Association Outstanding Faculty Award.

-- Susan Dewey and Dilnoza Khasilova, Millgate Engagement Awards.

-- Ryan Kobbe, Amy Spiker and Eric Teman, Ellbogen Meritorious Classroom Teaching Awards.

-- Farhad Jafari, Ellbogen Lifetime Teaching Award.

-- Marsha Knight, Presidential Award for Excellence in Research.

-- Larry Weatherford, George Duke Humphrey Distinguished Faculty Award.

-- Chris Boswell, Bill Mai and Frank Galey, retirement recognitions.

It was a lovely evening where excellence -- in the broadest sense -- was celebrated and service to UW was recognized. I congratulate and thank those who were honored.

I had the opportunity to participate in the 8:30 a.m. commencement ceremony, where we graduated students from the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Education, and Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources. Neltje received her honorary degree at this ceremony, and alumnae Sharon Linhart (’73) provided the keynote address, with Emily Quallen serving as the student speaker. Both did an outstanding job. Nearly 800 graduates walked across the stage to receive their diplomas to a full Arena-Auditorium. It was truly a wonderful morning.

As soon as the ceremony was over, I left for Las Cruces, N.M., to participate in my daughter’s graduation from New Mexico State University. She graduated Saturday afternoon with a B.A. in dance from the College of Education. It, too, was a lovely ceremony, and I enjoyed the opportunity to be a proud parent in the audience this time.

Beyond commencement, the UW Board of Trustees met last week on campus.  Monday and Tuesday were full with budget hearings. Each college dean, vice president and several directors presented their FY19 budgets to the trustees’ Budget Committee. Overall, I felt the budget presentations went well -- improved from last year -- with strong linkages of FY19 budgets to strategic plans. As an improvement this year, the FY19 budgets were produced directly from WyoCloud, with no additional spreadsheets generated to present the budget. This is a major improvement and illustrates that we are indeed further in the implementation and usage of the new fiscal system. This also comes after three months of budget preparation by many, and I thank all those who spent many days and hours preparing and refining the FY19 budget.

The Budget Committee is working with AVP David Jewell on final changes to the FY19 budget as a result of the hearings. They will meet via conference call at the end of May to go over all requested changes and review the final budget. With their approval, the budget will be posted for full board review and approval on the June 13 conference call.

Other board action approvals included:

-- Change order for the coffee/copy room in the High Altitude Performance Center.

-- West Campus Satellite Energy Plant construction delivery method.

-- Site leases for Wyoming Public Radio in Afton and Sheridan.

-- Visioning study for the Wyoming Union.

-- Lease for the Albany Community Health Clinic.

-- Cybersecurity certificate program for delivery beginning fall.

-- Regulation 8-2 on degrees and diplomas.

-- Return of swept funds to Staff Senate, EORI, SBDC.

-- Final WyoCloud Huron consulting payment and funding sources.

-- Purchase of four buses for the UW transit system.

-- Funding source for purchase of eight vehicles for UW Fleet Services.

-- Movement of indirect funds from Health Sciences to VP for research for the INBRE program.

-- Internal audit plan for FY19.

-- Received a report on cybersecurity at UW from VP Aylward.

-- Received a report on the Pilot Hill project from Marilynn Kite, Chris Rothfuss and Trustee Brown.

-- Received a report on interim studies and committee meetings for the Legislature from Meredith Asay.

-- Received a report on tenure and promotion, including approval of those recommended for tenure and promotion and extended-term contracts.

The board will hold its annual retreat in Cody July 11-13. Leadership of the board changed at this meeting, with Dave True assuming the presidency of the board.

Other changes include new ASUW leadership and Faculty Senate leadership. I thank Ben Wetzel and Michael Barker, who represented their governance organizations so well this past year.

I conclude by thanking everyone for a good academic year. I deeply appreciate the commitment of our faculty and staff to making UW a great university.

I hope you have a great summer, with time to catch up at work and time to take a break from work to relax and rejuvenate. With this message, I will be taking a break from sending out Monday morning messages on a weekly basis. I will send out communication on an as-needed basis to keep you informed of any important announcements throughout the summer. This fall, I hope to provide a new (and hopefully improved) format for communicating with campus. I will be working on this over the summer months.

Again, thank you for all you do for the University of Wyoming, and I wish you a fun summer.

Laurie Nichols, President

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