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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
UW Pride

Dear University of Wyoming Community,

I would like to welcome you all back to campus and wish you a happy new year for 2022! I hope you all had a restful break, good holiday time with family and friends, and time to relax and reflect on our recent history and the future that awaits us.
While we have had quite a challenging couple of years, with the COVID pandemic disrupting our lives, coming in unpredictable waves, social unrest felt across the nation, budget reductions and organizational changes that have all collectively created angst and concern across the campus, we also have accomplished much that sets the stage for a strong future. I would like to take a few minutes to review where I think we have been and where we are going. Indeed, I think we have a lot to look forward to! Through all this, the University of Wyoming is really on the move! And it is being recognized across the state and across the country.

• The Board of Trustees approved the most significant organizational changes in decades last November that are designed to provide more scholarly coherence across disciplines, with investments in Engineering with our planned College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, in Agriculture with our planned College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and a College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, that will allow us to focus on and strengthen what are the core components of a liberal arts education. The final names and details of these colleges will be finalized this year in a planning process underway with the faculty, staff and students.

• We have been working hard to finalize our senior academic leadership for UW to help us move the university forward for the coming decade. In the last year we have hired an outstanding and highly experienced Provost in Kevin Carman and strengthened Academic Affairs by elevating the position to Executive Vice President. We are in the final stages of hiring a new VP for Research and Economic Development, and have already brought in Steve Farkas as Associate VP for Economic Development, the first such role at UW, with many plans in place to beef up our activities to help grow the economy of the region and state (see below!). We are also about to begin a search for a VP for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, also elevating that role to a VP level for the first time at UW. We have hired a great group of deans in the last year and have several searches started (Health Sciences and Business) or planned (next year we will search for a new Dean of Engineering and Physical Sciences).

• We have several new programs launching, originating in large part with the outcomes of the four pillar groups from last year. Thanks to many of you on campus for incredible hard work to make these projects come to life! These include:

o The Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, a campus-wide program that will grow entrepreneurship programs at UW and across the state. The CEI will support students from any major as well as staff and faculty who wish to acquire the skills to start companies and will facilitate a new corporate partnership program. This is aimed at enhancing the student experience with internships, apprenticeships, and special interdisciplinary courses sponsored by companies; at increasing sponsored research with our faculty; and at corporate giving to support the strengthening of UW.

o The Wyoming Outdoor Recreation, Tourism and Hospitality (WORTH) Center, a program born out of a collaboration with the Haub School, the Colleges of Business and Agriculture, and others across campus that will help grow a market sector critical to Wyoming. This is proving very popular with partners across the state.

o A brand-new cross-campus School of Computing, just approved by the Board of Trustees after more than a year of work by our faculty, students and staff, that will touch every unit on campus, giving students from any major the skills they need to succeed and bringing new revenue streams from federal research agencies and companies alike. Combined with our plans to grow and strengthen a consolidated Department of Computer Science and Computer and Electrical Engineering (name still TBD), the activities, along with a revamped Advanced Research Computing Center (ARCC) and invigorated partnership with the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center, will vastly strengthen UW’s offerings and computing and its applications to topics critical to Wyoming’s future. A new Director for the ARCC, Liudmila Mainzer from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, will be joining us at the end of this month.

• These three initiatives are central to the Wyoming Innovation Partnership (WIP), which has been launched with all Wyoming’s community colleges, with the enthusiastic support of Governor Gordon. WIP is aimed at aligning all of higher education in Wyoming to better support the growth of the state’s economy through targeted collaborative programs in agriculture, energy, and tourism, as well as in computing and entrepreneurship across the state. A software engineering program is already under development with the community colleges. Governor Gordon has provided more than $25 million to launch Phase 1 of the WIP initiative, of which more than $14 million is available to support the Phase 1 launch of the CEI, WORTH, and School of Computing (among others) at UW. Governor Gordon has further recommended an additional $55 million for Phases 2 and 3 of WIP, which is now being considered by the state Legislature.

• Due to the hard work of the UW Foundation, our endowment now exceeds $800M, or about $67K/student. That is larger than all other Mountain West Conference members and significantly larger per student than many R1 universities (which we aspire to be!).
o This includes our first ever named deanships: the John P. “Jack” Ellbogen Deanship for the College of Education thanks to the incredible generosity of Mary Garland and the Ellbogen Foundation, and the Larry Carrell Deanship for the College of Engineering, thanks to the great vision and generosity of Larry Carrell. This will be immensely valuable in attracting a strong leader for the new College of Engineering and Physical Sciences next year and will give the dean the tools to help further build our Tier 1 Engineering program.

o We are in the process of working to use our existing endowments more effectively to better support our faculty, staff, and students, and have plans to better align fundraising with UW strategic directions and will unveil a UW Excellence Initiative later this spring. This initiative will support student success, help our existing faculty be the best scholars they can be, and attract the next generation of outstanding faculty. The UW Excellence Initiative will focus on more endowed deanships, will have a target of bringing our endowed chairs and professorships to more than 100, and other projects under development.

• Building on last year’s four pillar groups and their recommendations (UW will become more Digital, Entrepreneurial, Interdisciplinary, and Inclusive), on prior work on the Grand Challenges, on the new Board of Trustees-approved college structures and School of Computing, the WORTH initiative and CEI, the work of the WIP, and other developments, a new strategic plan for the period 2022-27 is getting started under the leadership of Vice Provost for Strategic Planning Anne Alexander. We will continue to deliver on our existing programs such as the Trustees Education Initiative, the Science Initiative, and Tier 1 Engineering as well as the new programs, to ensure that UW truly delivers on our promise to be the “best-in-class 21st-century land-grant university true to its Wyoming roots.”

• We are working to build on our strong international programs for students and faculty. In the last year, UW administration officials have visited Cardiff University in Wales, the Freie Universität, and Helmholtz Association in Berlin. The Cardiff Vice Chancellor visited campus in November. As a result, we have new cooperation agreements in place, and others are under development in Israel, Jordan, and elsewhere, broadening our international relationships. An exciting outcome already in humanities is a new research project in partnership with Cardiff, jointly funded by the NEH and the UK’s equivalent, the AHRC. This project provides support to develop advanced computer visioning tools in pursuit of enhanced access to digitized book illustrations with the British Library, UW’s AHC, and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. This partnership is one of 12 jointly funded projects between US and UK institutions to further the use of advanced computing methods in museums, archives, libraries, and galleries.

• I have made salary increases for faculty and staff one of our very top funding priorities in our presentations to both the Governor and the Joint Appropriations Committee. Governor Gordon has also made salary adjustments across the state one of his top priorities, so I believe we do have a fighting chance to be able to provide raises this year.

• And our athletics program is flourishing, despite budget cuts last year, due to the leadership of our Athletic Director Tom Burman, and our great coaches, faculty, staff, and student athletes. The Cowboy football team won the Idaho Potato Bowl in December. Cowboy basketball is near the top of the Mountain West with a 4-1 conference mark. Cowgirl basketball is coming off a season that saw them win the Mountain West Conference Tournament championship and earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in program history. Our rodeo team, just moved under athletics, is one of the strongest in the country. Student–athletes across all of our teams are continuing to achieve excellence in their respective sports and academically.

Not only have an influx of America Rescue Plan and other federal funds made some of our initiatives, such as WIP, possible, and have enabled us to turbocharge the launch of UW programs such as the School of Computing, WORTH and the CEI, the state’s economy is also improving. We continue working very hard to ensure that our state legislators and stakeholders see up close what we are up to, as we also fan across the state to build connections with communities in every corner of Wyoming.
I believe our stakeholders increasingly understand the incredible value that UW brings to our state, and with the support of Governor Gordon and business leaders, I am optimistic that we are making progress in shoring up funding from state sources in the future. And as we work hard to diversify revenue streams to UW by growing our capacity to raise research funds from federal sources and foundations, by growing our corporate partnerships and raising new private funds with our UW Foundation, I feel excited about the future of our university in the coming years.
This is genuinely exciting progress to start off the new year! I look forward to working with you to make this a banner year for UW and for the state of Wyoming.


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