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Published January 07, 2019
A longtime University of Wyoming faculty member who has led wide-ranging outreach programs around the state has been selected to lead UW’s new Office of Engagement and Outreach.
Jean Garrison, professor of international studies and political science who has directed UW’s Center for Global Studies since 2014, is UW’s first chief engagement officer. The Office of Engagement and Outreach is scheduled to open Jan. 22, fulfilling one of the objectives in the university’s strategic plan, “Breaking Through: 2017-2022.”
“We are excited that Jean has agreed to lead this important initiative focused on enhancing the well-being of our state’s communities through outreach programs and in collaboration with constituents and partners,” UW President Laurie Nichols says. “She is a passionate advocate for UW’s service and outreach mission, and I’m confident she will help strengthen the connection of the state’s university with the people of Wyoming.”
Garrison, who grew up in Sheridan County and graduated from Tongue River High School, earned a bachelor’s degree in political science, with an emphasis on international relations, from UW in 1990. She received her master’s and doctoral degrees in political science from the University of South Carolina, then spent five years on the faculty at Boston University. She returned to UW in 2000 as an assistant professor of political science and has held a number of roles while advancing in the faculty, including as interim director of the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and as director of the International Studies Program/Global and Area Studies Program. During that time, she also taught various courses in international relations and wrote three books and numerous articles focused on U.S. foreign policy, U.S.-China relations and energy security.
Over the past year, Garrison has been a special assistant to the president for engagement, leading UW’s Engagement Task Force. That group assessed UW’s existing statewide engagement efforts and recommended changes to fulfill the university’s strategic plan objectives aimed at enhancing those activities.
“I am proud of what we do and want the people of Wyoming to feel connected to their university,” Garrison says. “I look forward to working with my colleagues at UW, President Nichols and partners around the state to build a collective vision for UW’s work in community engagement.”
As a faculty member, Garrison has been on the front lines of the university’s statewide outreach activities.
As principal investigator for a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Garrison partnered with Wyoming community colleges to enhance international studies curricula and create a statewide speaker series. This led to a partnership including the “World to Wyoming” program, which has created 10 years of shared programming with Wyoming communities. In that time, she has had students share their international research projects with communities and service organizations across the state.
Garrison also is a graduate of Leadership Wyoming, which connected her more deeply with people around the state and “reminded me how much I love to do this work across the state.”
“This focus on partnership and reciprocity is at the core of UW’s land-grant mission, and we have a special opportunity, and obligation, given that we are the sole four-year public institution in the state,” she says. “I have a particular interest in civic engagement and look forward to promoting this initiative in partnership with community colleges and K-12 education.”
As she prepares to open the Office of Engagement and Outreach, Garrison will develop a UW President’s Engagement Council, which will help guide the mission of the new office and complete its strategic plan. Among other things, she is leading the development of a calendar web application to provide comprehensive information about the university’s activities around the state.
Already, as a result of the work of Garrison and her task force, the university has established the annual Marvin Millgate Community Engagement Awards to recognize collaborative teaching and research that extend beyond the UW campus. The selected honorees each receive $1,000, which may be used to fund additional engagement work by the recipients. The initial award winners were named last spring.
The new Office of Engagement and Outreach will be located in Room 232 in the Bureau of Mines Building, located at the corner of Lewis and Ninth streets on the northwest corner of the UW campus. The full office renovation is slated to be completed by March 1.