UW President Announces He’ll Retire Next Year
University of Wyoming President Tom Buchanan announced today (Thursday) that he will retire as president at the end of summer 2013, concluding a lengthy UW career that saw him preside over a period of tremendous progress.
Buchanan, 61, made the announcement during his annual “State of the University” speech, where he noted that UW has largely achieved the “long list of things that I believed we needed to accomplish to move to the next level” when he became president in 2005.
The president noted that exactly 125 years ago -- on Sept. 6, 1887 -- UW opened its doors to its first class of students.
“I admit that I stand here a bit in awe when I think of all that has been achieved in those 125 years -- so much in just the past 10 years,” he said. “But I also know that the future is UW’s to build, and from what I’ve seen, I know we have the horsepower to succeed.”
Gov. Matt Mead said Buchanan has left his mark on UW and the state.
“As alumni, my wife Carol and I are proud supporters of the University of Wyoming. We appreciate Dr. Buchanan’s efforts to shape and enhance the university and build on its stature within Wyoming and across the globe,” the governor said. “The public in general continues to benefit from the research and academic excellence at UW, and most importantly, under Tom’s leadership students have continued to receive a high-quality education -- one that prepares them as thinkers and leaders and makes them sought after by employers.”
UW Board of Trustees President Dave Bostrom of Worland said the board accepted Buchanan’s retirement with regret, as the president has provided exemplary leadership and led the university with distinction.
“We would’ve liked to reject the resignation, but obviously we can’t do that,” Bostrom said. “President Buchanan will have the full support of the board as he continues to lead the university through the rest of the year.”
During his convocation speech, Buchanan highlighted a number of the university’s and the state’s accomplishments during his tenure as provost and then president. He credited many people -- including UW’s leadership team -- for the achievements. Those advancements include:
- Creating the School of Energy Resources.
- Implementing the Hathaway Scholarship Program.
- Working with state officials to create the Wyoming Excellence Chairs program to attract top scholars to UW.
- The unprecedented construction boom, which includes the new Information Technology Building, the new College of Business building, the new Visual Arts Building, the new Energy Innovation Center; and future construction of the Michael B. Enzi STEM laboratory facility, the Gateway Center, and renovation and expansion of Half Acre Gym and the Performing Arts Building. He noted that over the past seven years, more than $670 million has been spent on capital construction.
- Collaboration with community colleges, including a new facility in Casper being built in cooperation with Casper College.
- Setting records for both private fundraising and external research funding.
- The successful university planning process that has driven improvements at UW over the past 15 years.
- Building high-performance computing capacity, developing computational science programs and helping attract the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center.
- Driving economic development through business assistance programs, helping launch spin-out and start-up companies, and boosting new companies through the Wyoming Technology Business Center.
- Improving the competitiveness of intercollegiate athletics programs while meeting NCAA requirements and boosting the academic performance of student-athletes.
- Increasing enrollment by attracting more Wyoming high school graduates as well as students from out of state.
- Increasing the number of students who study abroad and attracting more international students and faculty members to campus.
- Beginning a planning process – in cooperation with the governor’s office, legislators and industry – to strengthen the College of Engineering and Applied Science. “I fully expect the outcome of this effort to be an extraordinary investment by Wyoming in new facilities for our engineering faculty and a pipeline of support for years to come,” he said.
Buchanan noted that in the past decade, UW’s base appropriation from the state has grown from $100 million to $195 million annually. At the same time, annual tuition revenues have risen from $30 million to $55 million annually. Those increases have allowed the university’s instruction workforce to grow by 219 positions, and support budgets have increased from $20 million to $47 million annually.
Saying that Wyoming’s financial fortunes go up and down with the prices of energy resources, the president acknowledged that state officials have asked UW to prepare for budget cuts of up to 8 percent in the coming fiscal year.
“A reduction of this magnitude will be felt by all of us, but we have a thoughtful strategy to deal with whatever situation we’re presented,” he said. “If we are disciplined in our actions, I believe we can adjust our operations while minimizing the need to lay off personnel – not random reductions in our workforce, but careful strategic adjustments through managed attrition.”
Buchanan pointed out that UW employees haven’t received a pay raise in four years, and that the Board of Trustees has approved a supplemental budget request that would provide an average 3 percent merit increase in the next fiscal year – even as the university prepares for possible budget cuts.
“Make no mistake, though. Governor Mead, the majority of our state legislators, and the Wyoming public support their university -- more so, I would contend, than any other state in the union,” Buchanan said. “And I expect that they will try very hard to make sure that our priorities and budget requests are realized.”
Before becoming UW’s 23rd president in 2005, Buchanan served in various capacities at UW during a 35-year career. A native of New York, he attended the State University of New York at Cortland, where he graduated with his undergraduate degree in 1973. He earned his master’s of science degree from UW in 1975 and a Ph.D. from the Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1979.
After completing his doctorate, Buchanan returned to Wyoming as an assistant professor in the Department of Geography at UW. Over the next 30 years, he rose through the faculty ranks to full professor, and has held various administrative positions including department head, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and provost and vice president for academic affairs. He became president July 1, 2005.
Bostrom said efforts will begin soon to find Buchanan’s replacement.
“We’ll move forward with a selection process to find the best, most qualified person to continue the leadership that has existed for the past eight years,” Bostrom said.