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Engaging Wyoming

January 8, 2020
man talking into a microphone
Acting President Neil Theobald speaks at the Nov. 7 “The World Needs More Cowboys – and So Does Wyoming” event in Rawlins.

The new Office of Engagement and Outreach serves as a portal to the citizens of Wyoming. 

By Micaela Myers 

From agriculture and education to events, research and outreach, you can find the University of Wyoming at work in every corner of the state. Earlier this year, UW launched the Office of Engagement and Outreach to increase citizen access to the university and to streamline engagement efforts.

 

UWYO Events

The UWYO Events calendar is a major initial undertaking for the office launched this year in partnership with Institutional Communications and UW Information Technology. Rather than an internally focused calendar as previously existed, UWYO Events features statewide offerings as well as showcasing events and programs on campus.

“I hope it’s a useful tool to all of us on campus and people around the state,” says Jean Garrison, director of the Office of Engagement and Outreach. The calendar also helps the office to track statewide events and to coordinate teams working near each other.

“It offers the ability to filter by event, county and audience, which wasn’t there previously,” she says. “And the most exciting feature is the fact that the events link is right at the top of the webpage, so there’s a new look and new accessibility, and we can feature events in a way we haven’t been able to do before.”

Recent AmeriCorps Engagement Coordinator Kitty Heller says: “The big mission with the office is to be that portal that UW needs to help facilitate, promote and coordinate engagement and outreach. Our office is helping to not just support the programming and help facilitate it, but we’re coming up with tools such as the new UWYO Events calendar that will publicize that programming and make it easier for people all over the state to see what’s going on.”

 

Coordinating for Success

The office doesn’t put on a lot of events—except signature events such as Saturday University, which brings UW faculty to numerous Wyoming communities—but the office does help coordinate people and resources for programming, such as various UW offerings around this year’s Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Celebration and the statewide “The World Needs More Cowboys—and So Does Wyoming” events.

“It’s the 150th anniversary of women’s suffrage, and we have a lot of units on campus planning things,” Garrison says. “When things are clearly multidisciplinary or multiple units are involved, then our office helps look at how we can pool resources in terms of communicating and coordinating.” 

This year, Institutional Marketing and Communications also launched “The World Needs More Cowboys—and So Does Wyoming,” an in-state advertising campaign featuring alumni from across the state (page 16) and celebratory events for community members and future students.

“I see it as an opportunity to demonstrate depth and breadth in engagement with the community,” Garrison says. Her office helped facilitate student and faculty involvement in these alumni events; assisted with some of the Science Initiative’s Road Show, where faculty and student researchers lead hands-on activities in schools; and continues to host the free Saturday University lecture series.

UW Alumni Association Executive Director Keener Fry says: “The creation of the Office of Engagement moves UW’s engagement and outreach on campus and in our communities to another level. The UWAA is able to build on our current alumni partnerships and networks throughout the state to support the university’s land-grant mission. Through the Office of Engagement, the university can better execute a coordinated engagement plan to contribute to success of Wyoming.”

 

man working closely with lab equipment
Chemistry Assistant Professor Caleb Hill is one of three faculty who earned a Faculty Engagement Fellowship from the Office of Engagement and Outreach.

Rewarding and Educating

This fall, the Office of Engagement and Outreach invited faculty and academic professionals to submit proposals for Faculty Engagement Fellowships. They sought proposals

from people working in public engagement, engaged teaching, engaged scholarship and outreach focused on community impacts. Selected fellows will receive a stipend of $10,000 and up to $2,000 to support outreach programs and travel expenses. Three fellows from three categories were chosen. Special consideration was given for interdisciplinary collaborative projects involving students, proposals that enhance K–12 and community college partnerships, and/or proposals that build new capacity in collaborative and interdisciplinary engagement and outreach. This year's winners were Haub School Assistant Professor Corrie Knapp; Tawnya Plumb, head of collections at the George W. Hopper Law Library; and chemistry Assistant Professor Caleb Hill.

The office also seeks a greater UW presence throughout the state. Because the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources heads up UW Extension and therefore has feet

on the ground in every county, Garrison sees UW Extension as a key partner in this effort. 

“We’d like to be able to do more in promoting the programs that UW has and that the people in the community might want but don’t know about,” College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dean Barbara Rasco says. “We need to build our presence as an institution out in the communities, because we’re here to serve the citizens of Wyoming. That should be our primary goal.”

The Office of Engagement and Outreach works with an engagement council made up of representatives of each academic college or unit and key partners. Among other things, the council is looking at how to reward faculty and staff for their engagement and outreach efforts. “One way you do that is making sure it’s part of tenure promotion and performance evaluations,” Garrison says. “That’s a goal the engagement council will be working on.”

To promote engagement among faculty and staff, the office is offering a series of professional development workshops. “Most federal grants—certainly the National Science Foundation—require that you have a community engagement piece attached. It’s called broader impacts,” Garrison says. “So we’re partnering with the Office of Research and Economic Development on a series on that.”

Another series of forums focuses on service learning in partnership with the office of Service, Leadership and Community Engagement and the Ellbogen Center for Teaching and Learning.

“Engagement isn’t about creating more work for people—engagement is about recognizing the value of engaged teaching, engaged research (of service to the public) and the whole public service piece more generally,” Garrison says. The Office of Engagement and Outreach works to bring expertise from across campus together to work toward these goals.

 

UWYO Events is a comprehensive calendar featuring statewide offerings as well as events and programs on campus. UWYO Events provides better search functions and improved collaboration between UW and the state of Wyoming.

Take a look at what’s happening around the state: uwyo.edu/calendar

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