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Some Summertime Updates

June 12, 2017

Good Monday morning!

It has been three weeks since I have sent a Monday message to you, and I felt it was timely to connect on several important happenings. I trust you are enjoying the beautiful weather we experienced last week and are well into your summer activities by now. Tim has been planting flowers, herbs and even some vegetables, trying to figure out gardening at 7,220 feet! Wish him luck.

This week we host our first Native American Summer Institute, where we welcome 30 Native American high school students to campus for a week of academic, campus and career exploration. Most are from the Wind River reservation, with a few from Laramie and surrounding communities. For more information, see the full program here. I am especially appreciative of the planning team that has worked for many months to pull this together. The members include Angela Jaime, James Trosper, Miguel Rosales, Reinette Tendore and Tim Nichols. Dozens of others are participating in various parts of the institute, including academic workshops, recreation, campus and career exploration, and evening activities/housing/dining. It is exciting to launch what we hope becomes a strong pipeline for recruiting more Native students to UW. If you see them, please say hello and help them feel welcomed to our campus.

Sadly, last week I learned that Melvin Arthur and his family were in a very bad automobile accident. Melvin is a graduate of UW and currently works for Dr. Christine Porter on her Growing Resilience grant-funded project. Fortunately Melvin, his wife Johnna, and daughter Bella survived and are currently at the University of Colorado hospital in Denver. Please keep them in your thoughts as they begin a long path to recovery. You can post messages, follow their progress or donate to the family at

Several searches are in full swing, including the search for the associate vice provost for graduate education. Reporting directly to the provost and leading the Office of Graduate Education within Academic Affairs, the AVP will provide service to graduate programs across campus to ensure growth and excellence in graduate education. For a full position description and application instructions, please visit the Academic Affairs website AVP Graduate Education. Dr. Ben Rashford is chairing the search committee and can be contacted at with specific questions. The timeline is closing in, with applications due by June 19 for full consideration.

By now you probably have noticed a weekly communication called Tip of the Hat program. Sponsored by the Staff Senate, it has been quite popular, with many individuals being acknowledged for something special they have had in their job. Anyone on or off campus can submit a hat tip, and it just takes a few seconds. Please consider acknowledging someone who has gone above and beyond to make our university successful! And thank you, Staff Senate, for thinking of such program to acknowledge the important work of our staff.

Also, due to many requests for campus safety training back in February when the concealed-carry issue was a big topic of discussion, Staff Senate partnered with UWPD to provide an active-shooter training last week. I trust they had a strong turnout. If you missed it, departments or units can request the training at any time. Please contact UWPD to schedule.

Two governing boards met last week to conduct routine business. Last Wednesday, the UW Board of Trustees held its monthly business meeting via conference call and approved the FY18 operating budget. This was a significant step forward for UW, as the FY18 budget was developed in WyoCloud, our new fiscal system, and includes all funds (historically known as section 1, 2 or 3), which are now categorized by type of revenue (state funds, tuition, fees, auxiliary, grants/contract, gifts, etc.). This will be a year of learning how to budget and operate in a new system, with access to real-time expenditures and balances. I thank everyone who has worked so hard in making this significant improvement a reality. The FY18 WyoCloud budget goes live July 17.

The UW Foundation Board of Directors also met last Thursday and Friday on campus. Much time was spent with Meketa Investment Group, which manages the investment/endowment portfolio for the foundation, valued at $456.6 million. The goal is to achieve a 20-year payout of 7.8 percent. Other business of the foundation board included welcoming new board member Lindsay Hooper, hearing from Greg Brown on the Science Initiative, receiving our most recent draft of the strategic plan, approving fundraising priorities for FY18, as well as touring the High Bay Research Facility and viewing the engineering and McMurry High Altitude construction sites.

A highlight of this meeting was a special recognition for John Clay, who is an alum and has been such a tremendous supporter of UW. John has served on many advisory committees and boards for UW over the past 50 years. He is also the recipient of a distinguished alumni award and an honorary degree from UW. John and his late wife, Esther, have driven their loyalty to UW through generous philanthropy, totaling nearly $5.75 million in gifts or bequests. Thursday evening was a tribute to John and included a lovely dinner, a video on his World War II service where he served as a fighter pilot, and several tributes to the legacy he leaves at UW. On a personal note, I have had the opportunity to spend significant time with John, and he is a true gem. His love for UW is deep. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to know John Clay.

In the past three weeks, I have traveled to several Wyoming communities, including a day in Lander to meet with the legislative Select Tribal Relations Committee. There Chris Boswell, James Trosper and I provided an update to the committee on UW’s effort on Wind River and with reservation high schools. I also had the opportunity to visit our Extension office, Lander Valley High School and the National Outdoor Leadership School, where we discussed recruitment and potential for further collaboration.

I also traveled to Cody, where the Alumni Association hosted a well-attended alumni event on May 23. With some 150 in attendance, I had the opportunity to meet many more Cody alumni and talk to the group about UW. In addition, I visited the Cody school district and had a productive discussion with Superintendent Ray Schulte, Principal Jeremiah Johnson and guidance counselors Karen Day, Joshua Hays and Doreen Thunder. A final stop was at the Cody Enterprise to be interviewed by Editor Amber Peabody. It was a full and highly productive day in Cody!

The week of May 30-June 2 was a very busy one on campus. Throughout the week, we hosted two candidates for vice president for research and economic development back on campus for second visits. Both Joe Heppert and Ed Synokowski returned to campus for a second time to take a look at us -- and for us to take another look at them. I thank all who met with them on their return visit. Both indicated that the second visit was even better than the first, with broader and more in-depth conversations about research and economic development. I am in the process of extending an offer and will keep the campus apprised of the outcome.

We also hosted two individuals from our federal lobbying firm, Van Scoyoc and Associates, on campus. Carolyn Fuller and Leslee Gilbert spent two days at UW, visiting many of our research programs and facilities. Their objective was to be updated on our research efforts and tie key research projects to federal funding opportunities. I look forward to expanding our relationship with Van Scoyoc and ultimately with federal agencies.

Last week I, along with Athletics Director Tom Burman, attended the Mountain West Conference Board of Directors meeting in California. The Board of Directors consists of the presidents of the 12 conference universities. In addition, we invite the athletics directors to a portion of the meeting. I find that I learn so much at these meetings, as this is new territory for me! At this meeting we discussed a changing media environment for telecasting games, as well as the competitive and academic performance of the conference overall, with a deeper dive into football and men’s basketball.

Last Friday night, Tim and I had the privilege of attending the Wyoming Shrine Bowl banquet in Casper. Sponsored by the Casper Shriners, the game brings nearly 100 graduated seniors from across the state to play in a North vs. South football game. After a full week of practice and a trip to the Salt Lake Children’s Hospital, the game was played last Saturday. On Friday evening, a banquet attended by about 500 featured the players and their families, coaches and many other contributors. I provided the keynote address at the banquet and talked to the players about “their next big game … the game of life.” I also had the opportunity to sit by one of our own UW students, Chloe Cundall, who was assisting her father, John, executive director of the Wyoming Shine Bowl. It was a most enjoyable evening.

I end this message by pointing out that the Snowy Range Summer Theatre begins this week with the production “The Fantasticks.” I recall last summer that my first campus events were the productions of SRST. I enjoyed them greatly and look forward to this summer’s productions. I hope you can attend to support our summer repertory theatre.

Have a great week.

Laurie Nichols, President

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