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Taking the University on Tour

Taking the University on Tour

The annual Wyoming Rendezvous Tour introduces faculty and staff to the state of Wyoming.

By Micaela Myers

Wyoming encompasses nearly 98,000 square miles, with the city of Laramie making up less than 18 of those. To introduce new faculty and staff members to the state and people the university serves, the UW Office of the President began supporting the Wyoming Rendezvous Tour 16 years ago. Each tour explores a different part of Wyoming, with this year’s tour—Oct. 3–5, 2014—making stops in Thermopolis, Powell, Cody and Casper. Since its inception, the tour has been led by Milton Ontiveroz, UW Institutional Communications specialist, and it’s often narrated by history Professor Phil Roberts.

“The tour is a great opportunity for new UW faculty to see a part of Wyoming, get to know some of the community leaders and to see just how diverse Wyoming's economy really is,” Ontiveroz says.

“New faculty come away knowing how welcoming Wyoming residents truly are and are appreciative of learning more about their new home state.”

This year, I had the opportunity to join the tour. I arrived at UW in the summer of 2013 as the editor of UWyo Magazine, and while I’ve made many trips into the state—including visits to Devils Tower and Yellowstone—this was my first time visiting several of these cities. Fellow attendees included recently hired faculty and staff members from around the world and across university departments. President Dick McGinity joined the trip in Powell, along with Sara Axelson, vice president for student affairs, and Chris Boswell, vice president for governmental and community affairs.

“I think it’s really important to get faculty and representatives out of Laramie and into the state,” says tour member David Macaulay, a new assistant librarian in the UW Libraries Collection Development Office. “We’re a land-grant institution, so we have a responsibility to serve the broader community of the state.”

“I think it’s beneficial because not only do we get to meet people and see places that otherwise we might not, but we get to share with the community what we do—information about our research and our teaching,” adds Emma-Jane Alexander, who moved to Laramie from England to manage the Shell 3D Visualization Center at the School of Energy Resources.

Nearly every stop became a highlight for one attendee or another.

  • “I enjoyed visiting Powell High School. I was amazed by how much technology they have available in their school and the number of choices they have in programs and activities—from graphic arts and drafting to taxidermy.” –Judy Pasek, assistant librarian, UW Libraries
  • “Being able to go to Powell High School and meet with the guidance counselor there was particularly nice for me, being interested in incoming high school seniors for our Air Force ROTC programs.” –Capt. John McKee, recruiting flight commander, U.S. Air Force ROTC
  • “I enjoyed networking with the nursing faculty at Northwest College.” –Sarah Kooienga, assistant professor, School of Nursing
  • “I enjoyed meeting everyone on the trip and getting to know other people at the university, since I’ve only been here a month. I also enjoyed meeting the people at Northwest College and made some great connections for future projects together.” –Janel Seeley, assistant lecturer and instructional designer, Ellbogen Center for Teaching and Learning
  • “For me, the highlights were meeting people from the communities and seeing the Gluten Free Oats factory in Powell. It gave us an idea of how we can get involved in the local community and businesses.” –Erica Belmont, assistant professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • “It was sad but also very interesting to go to Heart Mountain Interpretive Center. I didn’t know that there were internment camps in Wyoming. It was moving.” –Cynthia Hughes, assistant librarian, UW Libraries
  • “I definitely enjoyed seeing where some of our students are coming from in terms of the high school and community college system. I was lucky personally this year to have a lot of connections to the stops. For example, I have family members who were interned during World War II, not at Heart Mountain but at other centers.” –Kevin Inouye, assistant professor, Department of Theatre & Dance
  • “I enjoyed the Buffalo Bill Center of the West—a world-class museum in Cody was a surprise.” –Susan Schulz, library specialist, Coe Library
  • “Phil’s stories on the trip were very entertaining.” –Blair Robertson, assistant professor, Department of Statistics
  • “For me, I liked the entire trip, especially Professor Phil and his very detailed information regarding the history of the places we visited and the people. I learned a lot about the state.” –Shawn Xu, assistant professor, Department of Accounting

As a lover of nature, I personally enjoyed seeing the hot springs at Thermopolis and beautiful Wind River Canyon. I’m also a horsewoman and appreciated the visit to Northwest College’s equine program. Everywhere we went, the people were incredibly friendly and welcoming.

“The Wyoming Rendezvous Tour is an important UW outreach program, and Wyoming residents are eager to have UW administrators and faculty visit their communities,” Ontiveroz says.

Outreach to the entire state won’t end with the trip, participants say. “The tour helped us develop connections with the local businesses,” says new Assistant Professor Elizabeth Minton, who teaches in the Department of Management and Marketing in the UW College of Business. “I spoke with the woman in charge of development at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, and she said that she’d be willing to Skype with my class and talk about nonprofit fundraising. At Gluten Free Oats, there might be an opportunity to help them with their marketing. It’s great for us to integrate Wyoming businesses into our classes more.”

While most tour participants are recently hired faculty and staff members, veteran employees of the university are also welcome to sign up. For more information, contact Milton Ontiveroz.

Wyoming Rendezvous Tour

Wyoming Rendezvous Tour group photo in front of tour bus
To introduce new faculty and staff members to the state and people the university serves, the UW Office of the President began supporting the Wyoming Rendezvous Tour 16 years ago.

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