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Celebrating Faculty Milestones, and Much More

September 18, 2017

To the UW community:

Good morning! I hope you had a fun weekend. Laramie was bursting with fans and many, many activities! It was an especially fun weekend for us as our youngest daughter, Hannah, came to Laramie to visit and participate with us in football festivities. The weekend went too fast, and it was difficult to say goodbye yesterday, as she returned to continue her senior year at New Mexico State University.

I thank all who attended convocation last Tuesday. In particular, I congratulate the 68 faculty members who were recognized for major milestones in their careers. This includes 13 faculty attaining the rank of professor; 24 faculty receiving tenure and/or promotion to associate professor; and 31 faculty and academic professionals receiving extended term or promotions. I enjoyed the opportunity to congratulate each faculty member and express my appreciation for their contributions to UW.

In addition to recognition at convocation, Provost Miller and I also enjoyed hosting a celebratory dinner for these same faculty on Thursday evening, plus newly hired faculty who joined us this fall, in the Wildcatter Stadium Club and Suites. Trustees and university leaders attended so we might celebrate with, and convey our congratulations to this distinguished group representing career milestones.

During the convocation program, we had the opportunity to hear remarks from our shared governance leaders: Ben Wetzel, president of ASUW; Rachel Stevens, president of Staff Senate; and Michael Barker, chair of Faculty Senate. My convocation address followed, and I recognized a number of other distinguished faculty nominated by their respective deans, and then provided an update on the state of the university. Thank you to all who attended and who helped make the afternoon so successful.

Wednesday through Friday of last week was spent in Board of Trustees committee and board meetings. Let me highlight for you a few of the approvals resulting from this meeting:

-- Approved the appointment of Dean Donal Skinner, Honors College; and Associate Vice Provost Jim Ahern, graduate education. Congratulations. We look forward to your leadership in these important academic units.

-- Approved the biennium standard and exception budgets for the block grant, 167 (medical education) and 067 (WICHE).

-- Approved of resolutions creating reserve accounts for the passenger plane; risk pool/litigation; residence halls; recruitment and retention; and special projects.

-- Approved moving $11,898,000 from the special projects reserve to fund IT (Information Technology) projects including a chiller upgrade, VMAX data storage replacement and HPC research cluster upgrade; $433,000 to fund the veterans center renovation; and $8,200,000 to fund the WyoCloud project.

-- Approved an anchor easement with Rocky Mountain Power and a Jacoby Ridge easement with the City of Laramie.

-- Approved the renaming of the Red House to the Native American Education, Research and Cultural Center.

-- Approved a change order for the exterior design of the Engineering Education and Research Building.

-- Discussed the Science Initiative building and endorsed a small group led by Vice President Synakowski to make final interior design decision on the building.

Reports and updates on a variety of topics included:

-- HLC accreditation

-- Program fees

-- Intercollegiate athletics

-- 10-year housing plan

-- Foundation investments

-- Capacity study

-- ENDOW and educational attainment for Wyoming

-- 15th Street

Friday immediately following the trustees meeting, I rushed back to attend the Lowell O’Bryan monument plaque dedication near Old Main and the Conservatory/Botany building. Lowell O’Bryan was a UW student who was tragically killed in a horse accident in 1922 while helping to welcome new President Arthur Crane. In 1927, classmates of O’Bryan raised money to build a stone drinking foundation in his honor. Some 90 years later, American Heritage Center staff Leslie Waggener and Rick Ewig were teaching a first-year seminar and encouraged their class to take on a class project, which turned out to be a restoration of the monument and a plaque that they added to provide the story of Lowell O’Bryan. A lovely dedication was made more touching as members of Lowell’s family, including several great-nieces/nephew, attended from as far away as California and Texas. If you have not seen the monument, please stop by and look at it as you walk past the all-American trial gardens near the conservatory. I thank Leslie, Rick, the landscape/facilities staff and the students from the fall 2015 FYS who made this possible.

I enjoyed the opportunity to meet with the UW Alumni Association Board on Saturday morning, spending an hour discussing our strategic plan, fall enrollment, alumni gatherings and many other topics of interest. Under the leadership of Tim Miles, Chair, and Keener Frye, executive director, this is a highly engaged board whose members care deeply about both the Alumni Association and UW. Later that morning, they approved the strategic plan for the Alumni Association, which makes it the first unit-level strategic plan completed and approved by its members. Congratulations! Their meeting was followed by an alumni luncheon held at the Gateway Center and attended by over 400 alums. It was a great day for UW alumni, and I congratulate Keener and staff of the Alumni Association office who worked very hard last weekend to host these events.

I am pleased to help spread the word about an upcoming event to honor Dr. Eric Sandeen, longtime faculty member at UW and director of the Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research (WIHR). Eric recently retired, and the WIHR faculty have designed a one-day conference of humanities research on Friday, Oct. 6, to be held in his honor. The conference will feature our faculty as they present their year’s work in the humanities, and conclude with a reception in Eric’s honor from 5-7 p.m. To RSVP for the lunch or reception (or both) on Oct. 6, please email cmf@uwyo.edu by Sept. 21. I hope you can attend.

In our strategic plan, you will find references to entrepreneurship and innovation. This was a major theme that emerged from our many listening sessions, and many voiced a vision of UW becoming a more innovative, entrepreneurial campus. We are beginning conversations about how to best move this cross-cutting initiative forward, and in this spirit, I am pleased to share with you the Ellbogen $50K.

Do you have a winning idea? If so, we would love to hear from you! The John P. Ellbogen $50k Entrepreneurship Competition deadline is quickly approaching on Oct. 6 at 3 p.m. The entrepreneurship competition will award $25,000 to the winner of the social enterprise track (think nonprofit or social service group) and $25,000 to the winner of the business/product track (think engineers/scientists/business services). For application materials, go to www.uwyo.edu/business/entrepreneurship/, or questions can be directed to Caitlyn at cemmett3@uwyo.edu.

Turning to the week at hand, Dean Pishko, VP Boswell and I will travel to Gillette today to meet with Energy Capital Economic Development leaders and tour several energy industry/businesses. Our visit is a continuation of collaboration with Gillette and Campbell County to further economic development and workforce preparation.

I also look forward to traveling to Casper on Wednesday to attend the Boys and Girls Club breakfast and announce an expanded partnership with the Wyoming Boys and Girls Clubs. I will fill you in more next week on this exciting partnership.

And, finally, the UW Foundation Board will meet on campus Thursday-Friday, and we will host our first Mountain West Conference football game against Hawaii on Saturday. The Veterans Plaza rededication at War Memorial Stadium is Saturday at 10 a.m. I hope you can join us as we honor our UW veterans who have served our country with distinction.

Have a great week!

Laurie Nichols, President


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