By Micaela Myers
University of Wyoming Department of Political Science Associate Professor Stephanie Anderson’s ties to Wyoming and the university go back decades. “My family has owned a cattle ranch in the Little Snake River Valley in Savery, Wyo., since the 1870s,” she says. “My grandmother won the equivalent of a Presidential scholarship to UW in 1919, my dad did in 1955, and my grandfather got his master’s here—he wound up being superintendent of schools in Carbon County. I still have my grandfather’s master’s thesis on teacher tenure law in Wyoming and my grandmother’s diary from when she lived at Hoyt Hall.
“My father graduated in 1959 with a degree in zoology,” she continues. “He applied to Cornell Medical College, which at the time was the best in the country. He was surprised when he got in and always kept that letter. There, he met my mother, who was a New Yorker, and he became a psychiatrist after being a Wyoming rancher.”
Anderson grew up mainly in New York City, with summers spent at the family ranch in Wyoming. She earned her bachelor’s at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, her master’s from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and her Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. Anderson taught at Bentley University and Dickinson College, studied in Korea as a Fulbright Scholar, spent eight years living overseas, but always wanted to teach at UW.
Coming back to run the family ranch eventually led to that opportunity for both Anderson and her husband, Tom Seitz, who is an assistant professor in Global & Area Studies.
“This is the only place we ever wanted to work,” she says. “We have students from all over the world…such a vibrant campus life. I really think 13,000 is kind of the perfect size. It’s the best job I’ve ever had.
“I also feel I have a special ability to work with a lot of these ranching kids because I know where they come from,” she adds. Anderson’s teaching awards include an Excellence in Teaching Non-Honors award, two Thumbs Up awards, two Mortar Board Top Prof awards and an Extraordinary Merit in Teaching award.
She says the only thing some Wyoming students lack is confidence. “I want to show them they really can do it and from there push them into the bigger leagues,” she says, noting that some of her students have won the prestigious Marshall Scholarship. “I’ve been on the Marshall Committee. They take the cream of the crop and give them two years of graduate training in the United Kingdom for free. Many of our students have won Marshall, Rhodes, Gates, and Fulbright scholarships, and I push them to apply. I want them to see how great they really are and work on their confidence. The students I’ve been able to work with, they go out—and sort of like learning to ride a bicycle—they’re a little shaky, and then they realize they can do it. That’s when I feel I’ve really accomplished something.”
Anderson says, “I can tell you that our best students can compete with Harvard’s best students. There’s no question.”
One of the 10 Cowboy Ethics adopted by UW is “Take pride in your work.” Associate Professor Stephanie Anderson demonstrates this principle with her dedication to student success.