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Eclipse Day and Many Activities as Fall Semester Nears

August 21, 2017

Today is eclipse day! This day has been long awaited, with much statewide planning to facilitate thousands of visitors to Wyoming. I have pasted in the map of Wyoming from the NASA eclipse website. Casper is estimated to experience totality at 11:42:39 a.m. I have provided for an hour of administrative release time so employees can observe the eclipse.

The Division of Student Affairs has planned an Eclipse BBQ on Simpson Plaza from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. today. A limited number of glasses will be available. They will be serving burgers, black bean burgers, chicken skewers, and cookies and chips, with cash or credit card accepted. If you are working today, I hope you can get out and stop by the Eclipse BBQ. Thank you, Student Affairs!

In my last message, I congratulated a number of student athletic teams or individuals for their achievements. I apologize that I missed the volleyball team. My congratulations to Coach Chad Callihan and the volleyball team for receiving a 2016-17 American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award. This award honors teams that have matched their dedication to the sport of volleyball with excellence in the classroom. Congratulations to another team that makes us proud!

Nearly two weeks ago, the new supercomputer, Cheyenne, was inaugurated at NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC). The NWSC began in 2012 as a result of a partnership among the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), the state of Wyoming, the University of WyomingCheyenne LEADSWyoming Business Council and Black Hills Energy. The NWSC is operated by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) under the sponsorship of the National Science Foundation.

Located along I-80 on the west side of Cheyenne, the supercomputer was installed over the spring months and turned on a few months ago. As the computer is brought fully online, the older supercomputer, Yellowstone, will be shut down. The inauguration included speakers representing NSF, NCAR, UCAR, Governor Mead, Mayor Orr and myself. It was a great day, with much excitement about future research possibilities with the world’s 22nd most powerful supercomputer. I might add that this is a big deal to UW, as our own researchers have led nearly 80 scientific projects on Yellowstone in the past five years, ranking UW as the top university among over 100 universities in terms of number of projects and total computing hours.

The Board of Trustees held its monthly meeting on Aug. 9 via conference call and approved the FY19-20 biennium standard and exception budgets for UW as well budgets for medical education and WICHE. These will now be submitted to the governor’s office for consideration in his proposed budget to the Legislature.

You may have noticed the article in the Boomerang last week about the appointment of a Native American Advisory Committee to advise and assist me in our work with this very important population. The committee met for the second time last week, and our primary discussion was about the grand opening of the Native American Education Research and Cultural Center located on the corner of 10th and Ivinson. It is planned for Friday, Sept. 29, in the afternoon. More details will be forthcoming.

Two important facility moves over the summer have included the Honors College moving into the Guthrie House (located on Ivinson) to realize much-needed additional space, and developing the Native American center in the former Honors house. I am excited about both of these developments, driven by our strategic plan to increase recruitment and retention of both honors and Native American students.

Saturday, Aug. 12, was a fun day, as I served as honorary co-chair of the Wyoming Breast Cancer Run in Cheyenne. The event started at 6:30 a.m. with music and pre-race programming. Senator Barrasso and his wife, Bobbi, served as MCs for the event. At 8 a.m. the 5K race/walk took place, and I am proud to say that I completed the run in about 35 minutes! The morning ended with breakfast and an awards program.
Congratulations to Vice President Sean Blackburn, whose family’s team had the most runners with some 80 individuals registered!

From the run, I continued to Fort Collins to attend the annual Griffin Scholars picnic. I was thrilled to welcome six Griffin scholars (out of nine total) to UW. The Griffin Foundation provides these two-year scholarships to community college transfer students to attend Northern Colorado, CSU or UW.  We did very well this year!

Last week was a week of travel for me. I started the week with a trip to Jackson to attend the advisory committee meeting of ENDOW. The meeting was co-chaired by Governor Mead and UW alumnus Greg Hill. The advisory committee consists of about 40 successful business executives or key leaders of other organizations. We spent Monday evening and the entire day Tuesday discussing economic diversification for Wyoming. It was a most interesting meeting, with many ideas generated. As I said at the meeting, “UW stands ready to engage, partner and be a major player in ENDOW.” More to come on this topic as the plan unfolds later this fall.

Then on Wednesday of last week, I attended the Wyoming State Fair with Dean Galey and several others from UW. It was a beautiful day in Douglas, and I had the opportunity to congratulate 4-Hers who placed in livestock judging, present the award to the grand champion market lamb winner, and attend the Agriculture Hall of Fame picnic. The day was rounded out by visiting the horse and beef barns and seeing the spectacular sheep wagon exhibit. I have an affinity for state fair, as it brings back fond memories of my youth and showing beef cattle at the South Dakota State Fair.

Last Thursday was truly a wonderful day with the grand opening of the High Bay Research Facility.  Hundreds of visitors, including the governor; U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi; Eli Bebout, president of the Wyoming Senate; Steve Harshman, speaker of the House; other elected officials; trustees; corporate partners; and many alumni were on campus to experience the official opening of this innovative and very beautiful building.

The grand opening ceremony was lovely, ending in a ribbon cutting and tours of the facility. Lunch followed with more speakers, including Dr. Mohammad Piri, whose Center of Innovation for Flow Through Porous Media is housed in the High Bay. Throughout the day, a symposium was held on unconventional extraction of oil/gas, and the day ended with an evening dinner and program by Dean Pishko on the new engineering building, and Jeane Hull, who encouraged women to pursue STEM careers by sharing her own story. It truly was a great day, and I congratulate all who worked so hard to make the High Bay a reality. It truly was a team effort.

To round out my last two weeks, I also had the opportunity to tour Laramie’s Big Brothers/Big Sisters Center and meet with Director Steve Hamaker about the many programs run out of this facility. Very impressive! And I attended the Energy Resources Council meeting on Friday morning. Led by Jeane Hull, this group provides advisory assistance to the School of Energy Resources.

Finally, on Friday evening, Tim and I had the honor of attending the white coat ceremony for our newest 2017 WWAMI class. Twenty students received their coats, stethoscopes and otoscopes. It was enjoyable to see so many proud family members in attendance. I thank the WWAMI faculty, mentors, Director Tim Robinson and Interim Dean David Jones for their leadership of this program.

I end by reaffirming UW’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. In these troubling times of protest, violence, loss of lives and injuries, I encourage us to stand committed to our mission of offering a quality education and providing a safe and inclusive university to those we serve.

Enjoy this special day. And best wishes as you make final preparations for the start of the fall semester -- just one week away!

Laurie Nichols, President

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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