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A Bright Future for Wyoming’s University

January 8, 2021
man standing outside

By Ed Seidel

 

In my first months as the University of Wyoming’s 28th president, I have been so impressed with the strong support we receive from our alumni, Wyoming people and other constituents; the dedication of our faculty and staff; and the grit and determination of our students. The COVID-19 pandemic has tested all of us in ways we couldn’t have imagined, but the Cowboy spirit has allowed us to move forward in fulfilling our mission of providing outstanding education, cutting-edge research and valuable service to the people of Wyoming and beyond.

As I write this, the pandemic is still raging across the nation and our state, but there is great reason for optimism as I look ahead. Vaccines are being rolled out to front-line workers; adherence to prevention measures appears to be on the increase in the state; and the university is deploying a rigorous, in-house testing program that we expect will help us have a successful spring semester. And I think it is very important to note that our coming victory over this virus and the devastation it has caused our state and world will be a major triumph of science, for which UW is an important home. 

While much of my time as president has been devoted to addressing COVID-19 and related budget challenges, they have not deterred us from looking to the future. We are taking steps toward a bold new vision for the university, with a strategic planning process built upon four primary objectives or pillars: becoming more digital, more entrepreneurial, more interdisciplinary and more inclusive. While the state’s budget crisis will limit our ability to move as quickly as we would like to build new programs—and yes, will require us to cut some things we might cherish—we are moving swiftly to develop new plans to pivot the university, and to consider additional sources of revenue to achieve them. Ultimately, we aim to become a best-in-class 21st-century land-grant university true to its Wyoming roots.

It’s appropriate that my first president’s message in UWyo Magazine be part of an issue devoted to highlighting the university’s activities related to technology and innovation. While there is much in place about which to be excited, we are already moving aggressively to build on this foundation. UW’s future—and, to a great extent, the future of Wyoming—depend upon our success in innovation, including new investments in programs in computing, data, artificial intelligence and their applications across the university, and training of the next-generation workforce with an entrepreneurial mindset. We look forward to sharing the details of our progress in coming months.

To successfully pursue this course as a university, we must work in an interdisciplinary fashion, breaking down any internal silos. We also must collaborate with our Wyoming community college partners, other universities, national laboratories, private foundations and businesses. Laying the groundwork for these partnerships has been a major focus of my efforts as president so far, and I’m excited about the opportunities in front of us.

Inclusivity, the fourth pillar, is at the heart of our land-grant, flagship mission. We want to make high-quality education accessible to everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, income or background. I so appreciate the welcome I have received at UW and in Wyoming, and I’m committed to making sure all students, faculty, staff and others feel the same way when they arrive here.

This state and its university have been through difficult times before; there’s every reason to believe we will navigate this time and come out stronger with a clear vision toward being a cutting-edge, 21st-century land-grant institution. Please know of my deep commitment to build on this proud history and help guide UW to new levels of excellence, as we count on the support and contributions of all of us who call ourselves UW Cowboys and Cowgirls.

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