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UW President Welcomes Students


August 21, 2009 — Fall semester classes at the University of Wyoming begin Monday, Aug. 24. UW President Tom Buchanan wrote the following letter to welcome students to campus:

Dear UW Students:
Welcome to the University of Wyoming!

As a UW student, you are a vital part of an exciting and challenging academic community, which includes faculty, staff, and administrators that have come from across the nation and the world to be here. Your presence invigorates and enriches us all, and we look forward with enthusiasm to the start of a new semester.

As Charles Dickens famously wrote, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" While that may be overly dramatic, UW is indeed facing some challenging times. You may be aware that Wyoming relies heavily on energy commodities for its revenue, and with falling energy prices and a stagnant economy, the economic downturn affecting the rest of the nation has impacted Wyoming as well.

In June, Gov. Fruedenthal announced $18.3 million in budget cuts to the University of Wyoming. This was the most significant budget reduction ever experienced at UW, and it has impacted every major division of the university to some extent. However, we were able to protect the core educational mission of the university, and most of you will experience "business as usual" as you return to campus.

As difficult as these decisions were -- including a reduction in force of 45 non-teaching staff -- I want to reiterate that UW is a much stronger institution today than it was 10 years ago. Even with these budget reductions, I do not intend to turn back the clock.

A decade ago, UW launched its first academic plan. The plan detailed what is important for UW as an institution dedicated to serving its students and the state. In May, UW's Board of Trustees approved the university's third academic plan. UW has received tremendous support from the governor and state legislature in the past ten years, and I believe UW's academic plan has increased state policymakers' confidence in UW.

The current iteration of UW's academic plan, which has a five-year outlook to 2014, continues to detail improvements and expansions of our academic programs to meet the changing needs of our students. New programs are proposed in sustainable business practices, energy systems engineering, biomedical sciences, and water resources, to name a few. It also outlines strategies for enhancing student success. Topics such as cost of attendance, expanded undergraduate research opportunities, graduate assistantships, and support for study abroad opportunities are all discussed, and the plan it sets forth a directive for the continued growth of our research enterprise and our commitment to state-wide issues.

The NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center project is moving ahead, as is the High Plains Gasification - Advanced Technology Center with General Electric. Those two projects will put us far ahead of many university competitors in critical research areas. Aggressive research is going forward in carbon sequestration, clean coal and renewable energy. Wildlife and livestock disease research remains a key component of our research enterprise. The academic plan is our roadmap to excellence in achieving our mission.

As you walk across campus, the most obvious indicator of our continued forward movement is the construction activities taking place. We have made extensive progress on the remodeling and expansion of the College of Business this summer. The new addition to Coe Library is available for student use, and the remodel of the original building is under way.

This fall we'll celebrate the completion of the new Information Technology facility and the Cheney International Center, as well as the expansion of the College of Law. Construction is under way for a new biosafety level-3 lab at the Wyoming State Vet Lab in West Laramie, and we'll also be breaking ground for the new Berry Center for Biodiversity Conservation. You'll also see the deconstruction of some of the older "barrack" apartment buildings. This is a part of our continuing long-range development plan for the east side of campus.

All of this construction impacts our ability to negotiate some pathways on campus, so I encourage you to continue to use the express shuttles that proved to be so successful last year. Increases in parking permit fees and a new transit fee for all faculty, staff, and students make the shuttle options even more attractive for the campus community.

The University of Wyoming's has a proud history. The commitment and dedication of our faculty and staff and the vitality and enthusiasm of our students keeps our 123-year-old institution young and dynamic. As a UW student, you are a part of this tradition. On behalf of all UW faculty and staff, best wishes for an exciting and productive academic year!

Photo:
Tom Buchanan

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