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Sullivan Plaza Dedicated

October 3, 2012
Jane and Mike Sullivan
Photo: The University of Wyoming’s new Sullivan Plaza honors the iconic Wyoming family that includes former governor Mike Sullivan and his wife, Jane.

An iconic Wyoming family was honored Friday, Oct. 5, by the dedication of a landscaped plaza bordering Prexy’s Pasture at the University of Wyoming.

The plaza honors the many contributions of the Sullivan family, including former governor Mike Sullivan and his wife, Jane, to educational excellence and to Wyoming and its university. They join the Cheneys and the Simpsons in having such a plaza named for them, part of campus beautification and UW’s long-range development plan.

“My life and that of my family have been connected with the University of Wyoming since I was a youngster visiting my grandparents in Laramie,” Mike Sullivan says. “We are honored and we are grateful to have this kind of recognition from an institution that has meant so much to Jane, me and our families.”

Similar to the other two plazas, Sullivan Plaza incorporates natural stone and ironwork benches, Vedauwoo-style granite boulder and native plant landscaping, and evergreen and aspen trees. It creates a place for students and visitors to relax, and is a byway for pedestrians and bicyclists. Finally, it will enhance the entrance to the UW College of Education.

“While UW has seen many very large new construction and renovation projects in the past decade, it is the smaller projects such as this one that really touch the heart and soul of the campus community,” says UW President Tom Buchanan. “The Sullivan Plaza not only honors the contributions of a remarkable family, it showcases the natural beauty of the landscape surrounding Laramie that we all love so much. It is a wonderful addition to our campus that generations of UW students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends will enjoy and celebrate for years to come.”

Sullivan Plaza was made possible by the contributions of many generous donors, as well as state funds earmarked for this campus beautification project. 

“What a fitting tribute to Mike and Jane Sullivan, and their family, for their years of service to the people of the state,” says Clayton Hartman, chair of the UW Foundation Board of Directors. “Once again, private contributors have stepped forward to support this project, which will beautify and enhance our lovely campus, particularly the entrance to the College of Education. We so much appreciate their dedication.”

“Through the years, the Sullivan family has become synonymous with the University of Wyoming,” says UW Foundation President Ben Blalock. “So frequently, Mike and Jane have provided UW with the leadership required to open so many doors and to advance the University of Wyoming. It was exciting to see the number of contributors who stepped forward with this opportunity to honor the Sullivan name. This project has been a privilege to work on over the past several months.”

The Sullivan family -- led by U.S. Ambassador and former Wyoming Gov. Mike Sullivan and his wife, Jane -- has made remarkable contributions to UW. The Sullivan family’s Wyoming patriarch, Joseph Robert “J.R.” Sullivan, was a lawyer and served on the UW Board of Trustees from 1945-59. He also served in the Legislature. J.R.’s son, J.B., served on the UW Board of Trustees from 1965-72, and J.R.’s son, John, served from 1959-63. J.B. and John were both attorneys, and John also was a representative to the Legislature.

Included among J.R.’s many grandchildren is Mike, who served not only as Wyoming’s governor but also as U.S. ambassador to Ireland under former presidents Clinton and Bush. He also served ex-officio on the UW Board of Trustees and is former chairman and current member of the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources Board, and a member of the Law School Advisory Board. He received an honorary doctorate of laws in 2008. Mike’s wife, Jane (Metzler), received a combined business and education degree and, with Mike, served on the ASUW Senate while at UW.

Many other members of the Sullivan family have attended and served Wyoming’s university. There is Dan, a political consultant who served in the state Senate for two terms. He also served or serves on the UW Art Museum National Board, the A&S Board of Visitors, and the Friends of AHC, among others. There also is Tim, who serves as Albany County commissioner, and Peter Queal, who teaches music at UW. Many of the Sullivan children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren received their degrees from UW and, in fact, in 1999 the whole Sullivan family was named Wyoming Family of the Year by Associated Parents of UW.

Arcon Inc. of Laramie was the general contractor on the Sullivan Plaza project. The principal landscape architects were Herb Schaal and Mark Kosmos of AECOM, Laramie. Subcontractors were Highland Landscaping, Hamakeer Excavation and Gold Brick Masonry, all of Laramie.

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