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Welcome to the start of a new academic year at the University of Wyoming! Let me start by saying how happy my wife, Karin, and I are to be in Laramie and starting this fall semester with you! Laramie is a beautiful place in the summer, but nothing can compare to the vibrancy of having the faculty and students back on campus!
And what a start we’ve had! On Monday, we greeted the 126th entering freshman class to UW. These approximately 1,600 new freshmen are from 41 states and 18 countries on five continents; almost 200 of them have identified themselves as multicultural. These first-time freshmen join 1,100 new transfer students, 9,000 returning upperclassmen, and 700 graduate students for a total enrollment of around 12,500. It is too early to assess what actual enrollments look like for the fall -- we’ll wait until the 15th class day before doing that.
Last week, we also had 37 new permanent track faculty and academic professionals join the UW family. These individuals come from universities in 18 states and three countries and represent 28 disciplines, further diversifying the extraordinary cadre of faculty we have at UW.
I’d like to welcome several individuals to key leadership positions at UW. First, Dr. Richard McGinity has agreed to serve as interim Vice President for Academic Affairs. Dr. Myron Allen is stepping down as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs after serving admirably in this capacity for the past eight years. Dick has agreed temporarily to leave his position as the Bill Daniels Chair of Business Ethics in the Department of Management and Marketing for the next year while we conduct an international search for a permanent provost. He’ll make sure the operations of Academic Affairs continue on smoothly during this period of transition, including moving forward on the development of University Plan IV. Dick and I share a common vision for the importance of ethical-leadership development, and many initiatives we’ll undertake in the coming weeks and months will reflect this underlying goal.
Mr. Rick Miller returns to the University of Wyoming as VP and General Counsel for UW. He planned to return to campus just to help out for a few months while we searched for a new General Counsel after Susan Weidel retired in July, but it was very clear to me that Rick has the unique skill set of being not only a first-rate general counsel but also an advisor with an understanding of Wyoming and the university that no other applicant could possibly have.
Dr. John Mittelstaedt, professor of Management and Marketing, will be the interim Dean of the College of Business for the coming year. Brent Hathaway has left UW to accept the position of Dean of Business at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and John will lead the college as we search for a new dean.
We did go off campus to identify a new associate provost for graduate education whose first assignment will be as Interim Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science for the coming year. Dr. Khaled Gasem is the Regents Professor, Bartlett Chair, and Head of the School of Chemical Engineering at Oklahoma State University. The Regents Professorship at OSU is the highest honor a professor can achieve in terms of academic credentials. He has been chair of chemical engineering and interim dean of engineering at OSU, and has done serious research in the energy field. I think he’ll do an excellent job in leading the College of Engineering and Applied Science while we search for a permanent dean to replace Rob Ettema, who is returning to the classroom, and as we work with the Wyoming Governor’s Energy, Engineering, and STEM Integration Task Force toward developing a Tier I engineering program.
I’d also like to welcome Paula Lutz to campus as the new Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Lutz comes to UW from Montana State University, where she was professor of cell biology and neuroscience and dean of Letters and Sciences. Dr. Lutz replaces longtime dean Ollie Walter, who retired as dean of A&S after 27 years in the job!
And last but not least, Dr. Susan Frye has left her faculty position in English to become the new Dean of the Outreach School -- this is a critical position for UW, and I am confident Susan will do a great job in this new role. I know you join me in wishing all of these new leaders success in their positions.
We are in the latter stages of searching for a new Vice President for Administration. Earlier this summer, I appointed a broad-based screening committee that had responsibility for narrowing the applicant pool to the strongest candidates. This committee was chaired by Chris Boswell, Vice President for Government and Community Affairs, and included faculty and staff representatives from Administration, Athletics, Deans’ Council, Faculty Senate, the Foundation, Legal Affairs, Research and Economic Development and Staff Senate, as well as external representatives from the City of Laramie and Cheyenne LEADS. A second screening committee made up of several vice presidents is currently reviewing the remaining applications and will make a final recommendation to me on whom to interview. I’ll keep you apprised of the process.
Karin, the triplets -- who are thriving and loving the ECEC preschool at UW! -- and I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring campus in an effort to get to know our new home better. It’s exciting to see underway the renovations of the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts and of Half Acre. And since I did arrive in time to see those old bungalow apartments that occupied the space adjacent to the Performing Arts Center, yes, I’m even glad to see the construction of a new parking lot! The work on the parking lot should be done in October, and parking should be easier on that side of campus very soon. Construction of the Gateway Center is also moving along nicely, and we’ll hold a “topping off” ceremony on September 12. That’s the same day we’ll dedicate the new Energy Innovation Center (home of the School of Energy Resources) on the west side of campus. For our staff in Casper, the new UW/Casper College Union and College Center Building is just about complete; we’ll dedicate that facility on January 28, 2014. And several large major maintenance projects, including the reroofing of the Centennial Complex and air handling and safety projects in Biological Sciences, should be wrapping up later this semester.
I spent most of my summer traveling across the state meeting with legislators, donors, alumni, and friends of the University of Wyoming. They have shared many perceptions about UW. Overall, there is a great love for and pride in Wyoming’s only university. Admittedly, though, there are some things we probably need to be doing better. I’ll be working with all of you in the coming weeks and months on some of these issues.
I’m hoping we can lead the way in demonstrating the pride we all have for this university by celebrating “UW Pride Fridays.” I encourage all faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends to show their spirit and commemorate the great traditions and achievements of UW by wearing brown and gold. I truly hope you’ll help make this a new tradition at UW by proudly wearing your UW colors every Friday.
Institutional Marketing, under the leadership of newly appointed associate vice president Montica Willmschen, has rolled out a new marketing campaign that I think you’ve all seen on the Web site. “Go for Gold,” our new campaign, reflects our pride in our institution and celebrates the achievements of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and donors, as well as our unique bond with the people of Wyoming.
I can’t think of a better time to show your school pride than at the UW Cowboys’ first home football game on September 7 when they take on the Idaho Vandals. Athletics has a new pre-game tailgate planned for students, who will receive free food and beverages if they come wearing brown and gold! Look for the event on the south end of War Memorial Stadium. So that my family and I can be more involved in the pre-game experience in Tailgate Park, I won’t be hosting an exclusive President’s tailgate event this year. You’ll find the Sternbergs in Tailgate Park on football Saturdays this year, and I look forward to seeing you there!
As I mentioned, I spent a lot of time traveling across the state this summer, gathering perceptions about UW. I’d also like to hear more about what you think. I’ll be hosting a second town meeting for faculty, staff, and students on Tuesday, September 10. An announcement will be coming out about time and location, and I encourage you to bring any questions you might have for me. Please be prepared to share your thoughts about what’s working and what isn’t here at UW.
One concern I’ve heard from the faculty and staff with whom I have had a chance to talk is that UW will be facing more budget reductions in the coming year. I want to reassure the university community that there will be no more anticipated budget reductions at this time. The reductions that were implemented last year will carry over to this year, so you should not expect to see any new cuts. The primary conversation with the legislature is now salary enhancements for all UW faculty and staff. This isn’t a done deal; but my colleagues and I are working hard to help our state leaders understand the importance of salary increases to sustaining the great work done UW. Merit-based salary increases are my #1 priority. I’ll keep you apprised through regular updates on how our work with the legislature is going.
Have a great start to the semester and a well-deserved long weekend to celebrate the Labor Day holiday! There are many things about UW of which I am proud, not the least of which is the outstanding faculty and staff that work every day to make this one of the best land grant universities -- one day soon, I hope the best -- in the nation!