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Some Updates as Summer Approaches

May 22, 2017

Good Monday morning!

As we end this month with a three-day Memorial Day weekend -- which transitions us to the summer season -- I want to provide a few updates.

Last Tuesday, I had the opportunity to spend the day in Kemmerer, where we began with an early-morning alumni coffee/donuts gathering. With about 20 in attendance, it was a nice exchange and provided me the opportunity to meet several new alums. From there, Chris Boswell, Alumni Association Director Keener Fry, Lincoln County 4-H Educator Miriam Feeley and I attended the Kemmerer High School/UW signing, where we signed four seniors who plan to attend UW this fall. I was delighted to learn that the entire high school (minus sophomores who were testing) were being dismissed from their classes to attend the signing. Thus, we had a full gym and a great opportunity to not only talk about the importance of a college education, but also to promote UW as providing a high-quality education at a great value. Following the school visit, Chris Boswell and I hosted state Rep. Thomas Crank (House District 18) for lunch, where we debriefed the past legislative session and talked about potential bills/funding for the next session.

Similarly, last Thursday I had the opportunity to have lunch with Sen. Wyatt Agar (Senate District 20) from Thermopolis, who was on campus for legislative committee meetings. This past session was Senator Agar’s first, as a freshman legislator. Between our commonality of being new to our roles, and coming from ag backgrounds, I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. I appreciate these one-on-one opportunities for me to meet our legislators.

Last Thursday was a truly great day, as our campus honored Vice President Bill Gern at Research and Economic Development Day. From 8:30 to 4:30, four rounds of lightning talks were held, with 37 faculty presenting their research in short presentations. Each round represented a rich array of disciplines. A luncheon keynote address was presented by Dr. Carlos Martinez del Rio on “Research at UW:  A Humboldtian/Bill-Gernian Model?” Nearly a dozen posters were also on display, and the day concluded with a reception honoring Bill Gern. It was a perfect tribute to Bill, who has done so much to nurture and grow scholarship at UW. He is truly a legend at this university, and his leadership and advocacy for faculty research will be missed. Bill will conclude his career at UW on June 30, and I thank him for all he has given to this university.

As we think about VP Gern’s retirement, I also want to provide you with an update on the search for Bill’s replacement. Over the past few weeks, four finalists interviewed for the vice president for research and economic development position. Upon feedback from the campus and search committee, I have extended an invitation to bring two of these finalists back to campus for a second look. This is a time when they can further explore UW and Laramie, and when we can continue to assess their fit for the position.  Both Ed Synakowski and Joe Heppert have enthusiastically accepted my invitation to return to campus.

Joe Heppert will be on campus Tuesday-Wednesday, May 30-31, and Ed Synakowski will be with us Thursday-Friday, June 1-2. I am in the process of working with each to develop an itinerary and schedule for their time on campus. If you have a strong desire to see either or both, please let me know, and we will attempt to accommodate as many requests as possible. I, too, will spend more time with each as we work to find the best fit for this important hire. As before, I appreciate your involvement and feedback. I also want to thank the search committee, which has done a superb job of developing a deep pool of applicants and bringing a strong group of finalists to campus. I am exciting to complete this search and make a very strong hire!

Despite the challenging weather last week, I was able to get to Denver on Friday for my first meeting as an association member of the National Western Stock Show. Friday was the annual meeting for members and trustees at the NWSS exhibition hall. For me, a new member, it was an interesting meeting to learn about the association itself, as well as its plans for a $856 million redevelopment of the complex, including new facilities such as a 1,000-seat coliseum, exhibit hall, barns and show arenas. An exciting announcement at the meeting was a $100,000 increase of NWSS scholarship awards. Beginning this year, the National Western will award $500,000 in annual scholarships to more than 100 students from Colorado and Wyoming. I look forward to becoming more involved so that the University of Wyoming can play a more prominent role at the NWSS in the future.

Friday evening, I enjoyed the opportunity to have dinner with Jean Garrison, several other UW folks and the Board of Advisors for the Center for Global Studies, hosted at Mary and Rob Garland’s home. And Saturday evening was Ivinson Memorial Hospital’s annual fundraiser, “La Grande Fleur,” where more than $100,000 was raised to support the cancer center -- another enjoyable and important event. 

I will be traveling again this week. Monday I will be in Lander attending the Tribal Relations Committee of the Legislature, where James Trosper, Chris Boswell and I will present on the University of Wyoming’s Native American initiatives. Tuesday I will be in Cody, with a variety of community and school meetings and an alumni reception. The remainder of the week I will be on campus, catching up and holding a variety of meetings.

I end this message by wishing you a great Memorial Day weekend. If you are traveling, be safe.

Have a great week!

Laurie Nichols, President


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