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Memorable Athletics Events, and Much More

November 6, 2017

Good Monday morning!

I am writing this message to you on Saturday evening, after returning from a big day on campus with multiple events. I congratulate the Cowboys, who just defeated CSU 16-13 in the battle of the border and retained the Bronze Boot for another year. It was a crazy game, with heavy snowfall through much of the second, third and fourth quarters, making conditions challenging, at best. I thank the marching band, cheer squad and fans who stayed in this cold, wet weather to watch the game. And congratulations to Coach Bohl and the entire football team! It was a big win!

The women’s volleyball team also had a home match today, taking on Utah State. While the Cowgirls fought hard, they were defeated 1-3.

And, finally, I thank the AAFCS student chapter, which sponsored a networking lunch and program called “Shattering the Glass Ceiling” that featured four women who talked about their professional achievements. I was especially pleased to meet Gracie Belize Anderson from Devils Tower, who is serving as national FCCLA president this year. She is an impressive young woman! Thanks to Lyndee Johnston and others who coordinated this event.

Let me also congratulate Tom Burman and the entire Athletics Department on a wonderful grand rededication and ribbon cutting of the Arena-Auditorium. The ceremony was held on Friday afternoon with a big crowd in attendance. A short program included Kevin McKinney as master of ceremonies, Tom Burman, Maury Brown, Governor Mead and myself. The program was enhanced with the marching band, cheer squad and Pistol Pete, who definitely livened the atmosphere. And the ribbon cutting included many responsible for securing funding for the renovation. An especially big thank you to the Susie McMurry family and Maury Brown family, who were lead donors to the project, and the state of Wyoming, which provided a matching gift. The renovation is lovely and really changes the look and feel of the A-A, particularly the entrance and concession corridor. The project included upgrades to lights, sound, locker facilities and much more. Beautifully done!

A special part of the program was the unveiling of the Kenny Sailors statue, located in the atrium of the entry into the A-A. Sculpted by artist Jay Warren, the Sailors statue is 18 feet high and a beautiful depiction of this great UW basketball player who became widely known for the jump shot, and went on to NBA fame.

Following the dedication, the women took on their first game of the season by handily defeating Chadron State, and the men secured a win against Regis College. Congratulations! It was a full and fun day in the A-A.

Let me back up and recall a couple of other notable happenings last week.

Last Monday, a small group including VP Synakowski, Deans Pishko and Chicoine, Davona Douglass and I traveled to Fort Collins to visit CSU Ventures, Colorado State’s tech transfer arm. As guests of their president, Todd Headley, we learned of the evolution of CSU Ventures from pre-2007 to present. They have undergone many changes -- particularly since 2013 -- and their past 10-year growth in research expenditures, inventions, patent applications, issued patents, license agreements, start-up companies and licensing income has been phenomenal. We also got a deeper dive into LaunchPad, which is CSU’s start-up company pipeline. It was a valuable morning and yielded many insights as to organization, programming, services and outcomes of a robust tech transfer operation.

I also had the fun experience of being a guest speaker at Dr. Stephen Jones’ Management 4430 class. It made me miss teaching! I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk about leadership and planning, organizational change, building networks, and working with multiple constituents. I enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on my time at UW and discuss, with this very engaged class, various management strategies and outcomes. Thanks for the opportunity, Dr. Jones!

Tuesday was a big day of travel for me. Tuesday morning, a small group from UW traveled to the National Western Stock Show (NWSS) complex to discuss and finalize an enhanced presence for UW at this year’s NWSS. We are working on final details, but the contract will include several sponsorships of specific events, along with marketing and educational opportunities. Our goal is to have a much stronger presence in Denver and at the NWSS this coming January. While we expect the entire university to benefit, we are working specifically with the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources to enhance its brand recognition and recruitment potential.

Shortly after returning from Denver, I drove to Buffalo to enjoy dinner on Tuesday evening with Superintendent Gerry Chase and his wife, former trustee Dave Palmerlee and Susan, and Dr. (as in M.D.) Mark Schueler and Marcy. They were wonderful company, and I enjoyed learning much more about Buffalo. Wednesday morning, I attended the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Big Horns Awards and Recognition Breakfast. This event serves as a fundraiser for the Buffalo B&G Club and also honored Willis Swenson, who has been a generous donor to the club. The program included local businessman Mark Wilson, former Governor Mike Sullivan, Mayor Michael Johnson, State Treasurer Mark Gordon and Superintendent Gerry Chase, among others. I provided the keynote address for the program, where I recounted my past experience with the Brookings (S.D.) Boys and Girls Club, talked more generally about positive youth development, and shared the emerging partnership between UW and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Wyoming. It was a most enjoyable morning.

Wednesday evening, I participated in the Poetry Slam, where I joined a couple of students to judge the competition. Sponsored by 7220 Entertainment, the event included 14 entries where students read their original poems. It was a harder job than I thought -- we have some very good poetry authors at UW! But we did finally land on the top three and presented cash prizes to each. Congratulations to our winners and all who participated!

On Thursday, I enjoyed a 15-minute interview with Bob Beck of Wyoming Public Media for the program “Open Spaces.” Bob inquired on several topics, including a potential salary increase, diversity, ENDOW and UW’s connection to K-12 funding. I always enjoy interviews with Bob, who sets a fast pace, covering many topics. Thanks, Bob and WPM!

Friday morning, the Trustees Budget Committee met to discuss its own trustees’ budget amendment, essentially moving funding from one category to another, and approved the request of ASUW to regain student fee funds that had been moved into a central reserve account last June. As the FY18 budget continues, one can expect to see minor adjustments such as these to fine tune budgets and, in some places, make corrections to last summer’s budget transfers into central reserve accounts.

I also had the opportunity to visit with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee on Friday afternoon, and then concluded the day by attending the Brand of Excellence College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Scholarship Banquet. The college recognized some 245 undergraduate and graduate students who received scholarships funded by donors. Congratulations to the student recipients, and a big thanks to all who had a hand in coordinating such a large production!

I congratulate our newest UW Board of Trustees member, Macey Moore of Douglas. Macey will replace Larry Gubbels, who resigned from the board due to his health. Macey is a ’99 graduate of the College of Business with a degree in finance. She worked in corporate finance with Accenture for over a decade, and then returned to her home to own and operate Re/MAX Horizon Realty, and the historic LaBonte Hotel. We look forward to welcoming Macey Moore at the November board meeting.

This week will include the Governor’s Business Forum in Cheyenne, beginning Tuesday evening and continuing through Thursday. I expect UW will have a delegation in attendance.

As I conclude my weekly message, I want to address another event scheduled this week. One of our recognized student organizations will sponsor a lecture by Mr. Dennis Prager on Thursday evening. Having heard concerns voiced by some students, I encourage our university community to consider that the principles of free speech and campus inclusiveness should not be mutually exclusive; that is, they should not conflict with, but rather reinforce each other. Inclusiveness is about widening the circle of voices, including more perspectives from different backgrounds, all free to speak, free to disagree, free to discuss and debate. Ultimately, it is our goal to produce graduates who are critical thinkers and active listeners, able to explore all sides of an argument before drawing conclusions. Then, we hope that students/citizens feel free to speak out and express their own views. A premise of higher education is the robust exchange of ideas, balanced with values of respect and inclusion.

With that, I wish you a good week.

Laurie Nichols, President

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