Anne Alexander came to Wyoming to pursue her Ph.D. in economics and found a home. Now she helps make this place feel like home for people from around the world.
“Wyoming is a welcoming place. It’s made me feel welcome, and I want others to feel that way, too,” says Alexander, the affable director of UW International Programs. “We take our new international students and visiting dignitaries to Frontier Days or to Vedauwoo. The State Capitol is always a big hit. The Snowys are popular. And whenever we can, we plan trips to Yellowstone and Devils Tower. We want to show them everything that makes Wyoming such a special place.”
But there’s much more to Alexander’s job than simply introducing the vast and unique Cowboy State to foreign students and visitors.
A key figure in UW’s efforts to enhance its international reputation, Alexander oversees various scholarships, grants and programs geared to provide opportunities for university students and faculty outside the borders of the United States. She also plays a key role in bringing international dignitaries to campus to help strengthen Wyoming’s connection with the rest of the world.
The goal is simple: Build a better Wyoming.
“As the one university in the state, UW has a real obligation to not only help provide a work force for our state but prepare our graduates to become citizens of our state,” Alexander says. “The more they know about the world, the more competitive we are as a state. That means we have to provide every possible opportunity for our students—and our faculty and staff—to become globally competent and globally engaged.”
She smiles and adds, “Anything we can do to help this state, we do.”
The university’s mission is especially important to Alexander, who was born and raised in New Mexico but happily calls Wyoming home. She enjoys hiking and camping in the state’s parks and forests, visiting historic sites and driving the many scenic highways and byways to see a natural beauty that is “pretty hard to beat.”
She even likes the long, cold winters that sometimes chase others out of Wyoming. “I like snow,” Alexander says as she watches the white flakes flutter outside her office inside the Cheney International Center. “Everything about snow!”
But, she says, Wyoming’s greatest asset is its people.
“I love Wyoming so much,” says Alexander, who joined the UW faculty in 1999 and served in various roles before ascending to her current position in 2006. She also teaches economics classes on a regular basis. “I connect with the people here, and I think that’s why it has just always had that feel of home.”
She says international students and visitors to Wyoming get the same sense.
“No matter where they are from, whether it’s China or Mexico or India, Wyoming is just a place where they automatically feel at home and they automatically feel the warmth of the people,” says Alexander. “That is truly a credit to the people who live here.”