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Kudos to Scholar-Athletes, Task Force Members and Others

August 7, 2017

To the UW community:

I hope that you are enjoying August and the beautiful summer days it has to offer. In just three weeks, we will welcome students back to campus and begin fall semester. These past two weeks, since my last communication, have been filled with travels and
enjoying the beauty of Wyoming.

I want to begin this message by congratulating several UW student-athletes.

The UW men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams received Scholar All-American recognition. In addition to their success in the pool, the men and women posted team GPAs of 3.29 and 3.21, respectively. Thirteen UW students were selected to the Scholar All-American team based on grade-point average and athletic performance on the national level. Congratulations to:

-- First Team: Karla Contreras and Maria Harutjunjan.

-- Second Team: Abigail Sullivan, Isobel Ryan, Kelly Ann Sheldon, Jacob Porter, Scotia Mullin, Wade Nelson, Danielle Badger, Keely Bishop, Samantha Burke, Ryan Russi and Slade Sheaffer.

Two other outstanding honors for UW student-athletes were recently announced and include:

-- Audra DeStefano, Gillette native and track and field athlete, was named Mountain West Conference female scholar-athlete of the year.

-- Laura Beach, volleyball student-athlete, was named one of two Mountain West nominees for NCAA Woman of the Year. The award recognizes academic, athletic and community service achievement. Laura will be considered for the overall NCAA award this fall.

Congratulations to these student-athletes who make us proud and represent UW so well!

Over the course of the past month, I have invited select members of the UW community to serve on one of two task forces. The first is a task force on salary policy and will work toward a set of recommendations to be included in a forthcoming policy for salary increases. I thank Chuck Mason and Roger Coupal, who are co-chairing this task force, and 10 additional members who agreed to serve. The second task force will focus efforts on developing a plan for an Office of Engagement and Outreach, including our goal of becoming a Carnegie “community engaged university.” I thank Jean Garrison, who is chairing this task force, and some 14 other members who have willingly agreed to serve. 

I also want to remind you of two other task forces that have been working for some time on their specific topics, including a program fee task force chaired by Rob Godby and a commencement task force chaired by Ray Reutzel. Both of these will conclude their work in the next few months and will share their recommendations soon. I thank everyone who is working on these targeted topics -- all of importance to the university -- and look forward to the results of their work.

Two weeks ago, I spent much of the week traveling in Wyoming. July 25 and 26 were spent in Riverton, Lander and Jackson. I was invited to speak to the Rotary Club in Riverton, and then as a guest of Trustee Dick Scarlett at the Men’s Club in Jackson. Both talks centered on our newly released strategic plan and UW goals for the future -- and generated great questions and vibrant discussion.

On Tuesday, James Trosper, Tim Nichols and I met with the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho business councils to update them on UW’s progress on several Native American initiatives. Jean Garrison and I had the opportunity to meet with President Brad Tyndall and others at Central Wyoming College, as well as President Glenn Arbery and several others from Wyoming Catholic College in Lander. Both visits were extremely interesting and yielded ideas for future collaboration.

That same week included a trip to Cheyenne with Provost Miller to meet with Todd Parfitt, director of the Department of Environmental Quality, about potential collaboration, and then a visit to the Cheyenne Residency Clinic to meet with its leadership and have a tour of the facility.

It was fun for Tim and me to attend a special reception for several Denver-area Cowboy Joe Club members with Coach Bohl and Leah Bohl, Athletic Director Tom Burman and several others from UW athletics, and VP Ben Blalock and several from the UW Foundation. It was fun to see the excitement of these Cowboys supporters for the upcoming football season and their delight in having the opportunity to spend time with so many from campus.

I spent both Fridays and Saturdays at Cheyenne Frontier Days, attending the rodeos, riding in one of the parades, stopping by our UW booth, and meeting many alums and supporters at various events. I thank Chris Boswell for being a wonderful host and facilitating many good contacts throughout these four days. I told several of you that attending the second year was even more fun for me as, I knew many more people and had a better understanding of the schedule and location of the many events. Frontier Days is a major attraction for Cheyenne, with many volunteers’ efforts make it a smoothly operated event.

Last Monday, I had the opportunity to address the McNair scholars from UW and six visiting McNair scholars from Purdue. The dinner was on the eve of their symposium and honored their efforts in undergraduate research over the summer months. It was fun to recount the history of the McNair program, which is part of the TRiO federal program. I was impressed to learn that UW has 14 McNair scholars this summer. Congratulations to Director Liz Nysson and all others who make this program so impactful to our scholars.

One other speaking engagement last week was to the new 2018 cohort of Leadership Wyoming. They began their yearlong training last week meeting on campus and learning more about UW. Several of you hosted Leadership Wyoming for a tour or program, and I thank you for doing so! The group consists of about 45 individuals from across Wyoming, including three UW faculty/staff members. I wish each of them a most successful year and appreciate being part of their first meeting.

Tim and I ended the weekend today by hosting a fun-filled picnic to thank the staff of the UW Foundation and UW Alumni Association. I appreciate all they do to promote our university by raising friends and funds! We thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon, as we had the opportunity to meet the families of our colleagues and thank them for their dedication and hard work.

This week, the UW Board of Trustees will hold its August conference call on Wednesday morning. Please see the agenda posted here. The bulk of the meeting will center on the 2019-20 biennium budget requests (both standard and exception).   

One other important event this week is the inauguration of the Cheyenne supercomputer on Tuesday afternoon at the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) near Cheyenne. The supercomputer was installed this past spring and provides greatly enhanced supercomputing capacity. The afternoon event will formally inaugurate Cheyenne and feature the successful partnership of UCAR, NCAR, UW, NSF, the Cheyenne community and the state of Wyoming. It will be a celebratory event!

As I mentioned, the weeks are growing shorter before we begin fall semester. I hope you take time to squeeze in one last getaway -- and have a great week!

Laurie Nichols, President


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