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When the University of Wyoming's School of Energy Resources (SER) was making plans to host a forum on the hot national topic of hydraulic fracturing in 2011, there was little debate about where to hold the event.
Having conducted quarterly meetings of the Wyoming Energy Resources Council at the UW Conference Center, as well as hosting an international conference on advanced coal technologies there in 2010, SER officials knew it was clearly the best place for the "fracking" forum.
"The UW Conference Center has given the University of Wyoming the opportunity to host large conferences and continue to be an advocate for students, the public and the state of Wyoming," says Mary Byrnes, SER's associate director for energy outreach. "The experienced staff has created a partnership with the university to provide the best service possible."
SER is just one of many UW units that have taken advantage of the services of the UW Conference Center, which opened in 2008 along with the adjacent Laramie Hilton Garden Inn. But UW officials say more campus entities could hold events at the Conference Center, from regular board meetings to one-day conferences to large banquets.
Toward that end, the Conference Center will host a luncheon Tuesday, May 15, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., to provide information to campus constituents about the opportunities to hold meetings, retreats, conferences and other events there. There is no charge for the luncheon, and attendees will receive a complimentary gift. A free shuttle service will be available to pick up participants at the Wyoming Union bus stop at 11:30 a.m. and return them to campus after the luncheon.
Those wishing to attend should contact UW Central Scheduling Manager Crystal Bennett at 766-6717 or email firstname.lastname@example.org by the close of business Friday, May 11.
"There are some great meeting spaces on campus, but we encourage the campus community to consider using the conference center," says Angela Ver Ploeg, the center's director of sales and marketing. "We have a great atmosphere here. And sometimes it's good to remove yourself from you normal environment so you're able to better focus on the task at hand."
A UW graduate, Ver Ploeg has been with the UW Conference Center since it opened. She says it has been "cool to see the center grow and be part of its success," including year-over-year increases in use and recognition throughout the state and region.
At the same time, Ver Ploeg says she's surprised that many people on campus are under the misconception that the UW Conference Center is not part of the university. The fact is that the Conference Center is owned by the university and operates under UW's Division of Administration, which contracts with Hotel Investment Services to manage the facility. The adjoining Laramie Hilton Garden Inn is privately owned.
"We are the university's conference center, and having your event here has a direct impact on the ability of the university to be successful," she says.
UW units have an additional incentive to use the Conference Center: It offers special rates that are about half of the rates charged non-UW entities.
The center features 12 conference rooms totaling more than 13,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, plus the ability to create two ballrooms. The Grand Ballroom is more than 7,000 square feet, and the Garden Ballroom is more than 2,000 square feet. And the Grand Ballroom lobby provides an additional 2,000 square feet.
"We're a full-service meeting facility," including audio-visual capability and a complete catering service, says Ver Ploeg. "We offer what no one else in Laramie can offer."
Shuttle service also is available to transport people to and from the Conference Center through UW Transit and Park Services, and the Gem City Grand bus service.
Byrnes encourages all of the campus community to embrace the UW Conference Center just as SER has.
"The Conference Center has provided the university a professional and versatile venue to host a variety of events," she says.