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First ‘Idea Lab’ for UW Strategic Planning Wednesday

March 1, 2022

Members of the University of Wyoming community have an opportunity to weigh in on issues important to the university’s future in a series of structured “Idea Labs” in coming weeks, starting with one focused in online education Wednesday, March 2.

Led by UW’s Strategic Planning Team, these are workshops designed to collect feedback and good ideas. Each two-hour Idea Lab will take a deep dive into a focused topic related to UW’s mission of teaching, research and service. There’s a maximum of 100 seats for each event, with read-ahead homework for all participants. The Idea Labs will take place in the Wyoming Union Ballroom, with an option for Zoom participation upon request.

“Don’t worry -- these are not presentations or grumble sessions,” says Vice Provost for Strategic Planning and Initiatives Anne Alexander, who co-chairs the Strategic Planning Team. “We can probably all agree that UW can be better; these Idea Labs are focused on what it takes to actually get better. This is structured working time for us to think together and hone in on solutions. The goal is that your active participation generates concrete steps we can take to make UW even better.”

Wednesday’s Idea Lab topic is “The Future of Online and Residential Learning at UW.” It will take place from 2-4 p.m. in the Wyoming Union Ballroom. Those outside Laramie who want to participate should email Alexander at

“After the Big Flip in March 2020, it's time to move forward on a sustainable and strategic plan for online education -- not based on courses, but on programs that UW has an edge in,” Alexander says.

The session will explore these questions:

-- What unique program offerings and student services can set us apart in the marketplace?

-- What do our data tell us about where we can compete in online degree programs?

-- What programs are critical to serving the state, and which represent strong revenue opportunities?

-- What mechanisms, processes and infrastructure would put us in a sustainable competitive position?

-- How do we promote continued pedagogical flexibility in our residential programs (when students are ill or traveling and want to attend class on Zoom)?

Topics of other upcoming Idea Labs include: Becoming a Carnegie Engaged University; resilience and well-being of students, faculty and staff; enrollment and student success; making UW a great place to learn; making UW a great place to work; and open scholarship, open education and institutional repository. The dates and times of those sessions, along with required reading materials, will be available and updated here:

“The goal of Idea Labs is to gather people, especially those who can take an institutional lens to a challenge, to tackle an opportunity UW faces and give you time and space to work through that issue,” Alexander says. “The outcomes will inform the strategic plan’s priorities. The conversation will be focused on the ‘solution zone,’ rather the ‘griping zone.’ These will be fun and interactive opportunities, and the Strategic Planning Team hopes you’ll join in for focused, solutions-oriented discussions.”

For more information about the overall strategic planning effort at UW, go to this website, which will be updated as the process unfolds:

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