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New Center at UW Will Lead Literacy Education, Research

December 3, 2012
Three people smiling
Wyoming First Lady Carol Mead, second from left, was joined by Kay Persichitte, UW College of Education dean, and President Tom Buchanan Monday at the State Capitol to announce the success of a fundraising campaign for the Literacy Research Center and Clinic. It will be located in the UW College of Education Annex Building in Laramie. (UW Photo)

Wyoming’s efforts to help children succeed in school and careers will receive a major boost with the opening of the University of Wyoming Literacy Research Center and Clinic next year.

During a press conference today (Monday) at the State Capitol in Cheyenne, First Lady Carol Mead was joined by Gov. Matt Mead, university and UW Foundation officials to announce the success of a fundraising campaign for the Literacy Research Center and Clinic (LRCC). It will be located in the UW College of Education Annex Building in Laramie, following renovations totaling $3.8 million. The work will be funded by private donations matched by state appropriations. The campaign continues with an ongoing emphasis on technology advancements and programmatic support for literacy initiatives statewide.

“This is a wonderful example of a public-private partnership that promises to make a significant difference in the lives of Wyoming families,” UW President Tom Buchanan says. “We’re grateful to those who’ve contributed to allow us to move to the next level in literacy education, which has become a focal point of scholarship and expertise in our College of Education.”

For Mrs. Mead, the LRCC represents a major step forward in one of her primary areas of focus -- children’s issues. She has worked with the UW Foundation to raise private support for the campaign, and with the university as a major spokesperson for literacy initiatives.

“I join the university in thanking the generous donors who have helped make the concept of a statewide Literacy Research Center and Clinic a reality,” she says. “I have enjoyed working with UW on this project and am excited about its capacity to reach so many in our state with tools fundamental to our children’s success.”

The LRCC will serve as the epicenter of literacy expertise in Wyoming, offering professional development for teachers; literacy education for pre-service teachers and graduate students; research on literacy education; and service as a statewide clinical resource. The center will build upon a number of statewide partnerships already established by the College of Education, along with two Wyoming Excellence in Higher Education Endowed Chairs in Literacy Education established at UW, with funding from the Legislature.

“There’s a common understanding in this state that improving literacy levels will help Wyoming students be more successful in any college or career future they might choose. That’s exactly what we’re working to do,” says Kay Persichitte, UW College of Education dean. “We’re humbled by the generosity of the donors, our elected officials, President Buchanan and the UW Foundation. We are looking forward to providing a significant resource for the state of Wyoming.”

The College of Education has received lead gifts for the facility renovation from Mickey and Jeanne Klein, the Joe and Arlene Watt Foundation, Thea Stidum, and Don and Betty Walters. The campaign also has raised several endowment gifts, most notably from the John P. Ellbogen Foundation, for the ongoing support of the LRCC’s activities.

“First Lady Carol Mead’s involvement with the university and the UW Foundation in raising literacy awareness and her active role in asking private contributors to give generously to support UW’s literacy agenda has been pivotal to our success to date,” says UW Foundation President Ben Blalock. “It is a privilege to work with Carol. So many special donors have generously supported UW’s important literacy initiatives. We look forward to the continuation of our close work with Carol. There is so much more to accomplish.”


University of Wyoming Literary Research Center and Clinic

  • Location: First floor of the UW College of Education Annex Building at Lewis Street and 13th Street.
  • Purpose: Serve as the epicenter of literacy expertise in Wyoming.
  • Objectives: Improve the quality of literacy learning, literacy instruction and literacy leadership in the state through professional development for teachers; improved literary education for pre-service teachers and graduate students; research on literacy education; and service as a statewide clinical resource. Focus on the needs of learners of all ages (birth through high school) and improvement of the instructional capacity of classroom teachers to meet these needs.
  • Strategy: Through the formation of partnerships with public and private schools, government agencies and community-based organizations, center personnel will engage in clinical and professional development activities both on the UW campus and across the state using distance delivery technologies. Research projects will be developed in relation to clinical and professional development activities. Outreach and research efforts will focus on: (a) basic literacy processes (e.g., emergent literacy, vocabulary, comprehension); (b) struggling readers and writers; (c) genre-based, discipline-based literacy processes across the K-12 spectrum; (d) family literacy (particularly with poor, rural families and families who include English learners); and (e) the transition to post-secondary life.
  • Construction: The existing 9,000 gross square feet of lower-level space in the Education Annex Building will be reconfigured for the LRCC containing 5,780 net square feet. It will include a family literacy area; six diagnostic and tutorial rooms digitally connected to a centralized server to provide video, audio and computer data; two large seminar spaces with state-of-the-art distance technology; graduate student research space; and offices for Victoria Gillis and George Kamberelis, the two Wyoming Excellence in Higher Education Endowed Chairs in Literacy Education. Design firm is The Design Studio Inc. of Cheyenne.
  • Funding: The estimated costs of $3.8 million are funded with private donations and matched by state appropriations.
  • Timetable: Contractor selection in January, with construction beginning shortly thereafter; opening in fall 2013.
  • Staffing: In addition to the two endowed chairs, more than 15 other UW faculty members in the College of Education and other academic units have expertise and interest in literacy education.
  • Partnerships: The College of Education already has a number of partnerships with public and private entities across the state, with a goal of expanding the range of literacy education services provided to children and families. Among those partners are the Child Development Center of Natrona County in Casper; the Teton Literacy Center and Systems of Education in Jackson; school districts in Sweetwater, Lincoln, Laramie and Weston counties; the Wyoming Department of Family Services; and the Laramie community.


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