Three to Receive UW Distinguished Alumni Awards

October 1, 2012
Harriet Byrd, Greg Dyekman, and Joe Meyer
The University of Wyoming 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are Harriet “Liz” Byrd, Greg Dyekman and Joe Meyer. (UW Alumni Association)

By Julianne Couch, UW AlumNews

(Lengthier articles about the three recipients can be found at

Three University of Wyoming graduates will receive Distinguished Alumni Awards during UW Homecoming Saturday, Oct. 13.

The 2012 recipients are retired educator and Laramie County legislator Harriet Elizabeth “Liz” Byrd, (M.A., 1976); Cheyenne attorney Gregory C. Dyekman (B.S., 1977; J.D. 1980); and longtime public servant and state elected official Joseph B. Meyer (B.A., 1964; J.D., 1967).

They will attend several Homecoming activities, ride in the parade Saturday, Oct. 13, and be recognized during the Cowboys' football game against Air Force at 5 p.m.

Byrd taught school in Cheyenne for 37 years, first at Warren Air Force Base for a decade and then 27 years in Cheyenne schools.

In 1980, Byrd was elected to the Wyoming State House of Representatives and was the first African-American woman to ever serve in the Wyoming State Legislature. After serving eight years, she ran for and won election to the Wyoming State Senate in 1988, where she served four years. She was also the first African American to ever serve in the Wyoming State Senate.

Byrd was the prime sponsor of legislation to create Wyoming Equality Day, which passed in 1991. Wyoming’s version of this paid holiday honors the birth of Martin Luther King Jr.

The UW African-American and Diaspora Studies program (AADS) has created a speaker series named in Byrd’s honor.

“She has shown -- to millions of women and girls -- that women have a place in state and national politics, and that their voices should be counted and heard,” says AADS Director Tracey Owens Patton. “If it were not for pioneers like Mrs. Byrd, women like me would not have some of the advantages we have today.”

Dyekman, who has built a 33-year law career in Cheyenne, continues to contribute to his alma mater. He has been a member of the UW Foundation board since 2003, serving as chairman from 2010 to 2012. He has been a member of the College of Arts and Sciences Board of Visitors since 1997. And he helps students on the UW debate team and in the College of Law.

“I don’t know if this university can ever repay the debt it owes to Greg, but the Distinguished Alumni Award is certainly one way to start because it exemplifies what an alumnus can be,” says Ken Smith, head of the Department of Communications and Journalism. “He is a huge success in his field. He serves as a role model for past and current students. And he is outspoken about the importance of the education that he received at UW.”

Dyekman is a partner in the firm of Dray, Thomson and Dyekman in Cheyenne, where his practice has included a wide range of legal work. He has been active in numerous nonprofit efforts in Cheyenne and was named Person of the Year by the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce.

A Casper Natrona High School graduate, Meyer currently is the Wyoming state treasurer since 2008 and was first elected to state office as Wyoming secretary of state in 1999.

He was the longest serving Wyoming attorney general from 1987-1995, and was the Wyoming Legislative Service Office (LSO) assistant director from 1971-1987. Meyer was named special assistant for governmental relations to the UW president from 1995-1998.

After graduating from the UW College of Law, he practiced for four years, two years as Fremont County deputy county attorney and two years in a private law partnership.

Meyer is a member of several UW boards and was named a College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumnus in 2010.

Former Gov. Dave Freudenthal says of Meyer’s contributions to UW and the state, “In his professional endeavors and his personal undertakings, Joe has promoted the university’s interests and the affiliation of its graduates. He made significant contributions to our profession.”

He met his wife, Mary Orr (BA ’65, MA ’68) at UW. They have two sons and daughters-in-law, who also are UW graduates.

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