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Published May 18, 2018
The effort to recruit Wyoming’s best and brightest students to attend the University of Wyoming has received a big boost, thanks to a $500,000 gift from the Joe and Arlene Watt Foundation.
“To be able to go out and approach these academically top-rated students and offer them a little better financial incentive -- it’s good for the university,” says Watt Foundation Director Bob Eberhart. “We thought that it might be an opportunity for the Watt Foundation to continue its support and help with that. We certainly want to invest in Wyoming students, and we want to show our support of the university. The university identified a weakness based on what they could support, and so it looks like it’s going to be a win for them, a win for us and a win for the students.”
This generous gift will create the Joe and Arlene Watt UW Presidential Scholarship, the first presidential-level scholarship of its kind at UW. The scholarship will award $2,000 each year for up to four years.
“The most important asset Wyoming has, as we build toward a diverse economic future, is its young people and their capacity to both contribute and take risks,” says UW Trustee Michelle Sullivan, from Sheridan. “Those students who have been academically successful are heavily recruited by other colleges in the region and beyond. We know that when these young people leave, they often have a great deal of difficulty returning to the state, or if they stay -- especially if they have college debt. We believe this is an investment not only in the student but in the long-term vitality of the state of Wyoming.”
Twenty students have been selected as winners of the inaugural Watt UW Presidential Scholarship. The Watt scholarship is for Wyoming residents who score a 30 or higher on the ACT and have a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
“We are so very thankful to the Watt Foundation for this leadership gift,” says UW President Laurie Nichols. “Their support of Wyoming’s university has spanned more than 50 years. This new gift will help us to continue our momentum toward a better tomorrow by helping us to recruit and retain some of Wyoming’s most promising students.”
The current initiative to grow UW’s enrollment is the result of the university’s ambitious new strategic plan, “Breaking Through: 2017-2022.” Implementing a student-centric enrollment management strategy to grow enrollment and enhance recruitment and retention of students is featured prominently in the plan, as UW looks to reach a target enrollment of 13,500 students by 2022.