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Governor’s Higher Education Initiative Enhances Collaboration Between UW, Community Colleges

January 25, 2021

Gov. Mark Gordon has unveiled a proposal for modernizing and refocusing Wyoming’s higher education system. The initiative, called the Wyoming Innovation Network (WIN), calls for closer collaboration between the University of Wyoming and the state’s community colleges -- and an emphasis on developing innovative solutions that will support and enhance Wyoming’s economy and workforce.

“Given the challenges facing our state, I’m committed to ensuring that our higher education institutions work together more effectively,” Gordon says. “Together, we are going to develop and deploy innovative solutions that will provide more and better opportunities to our workers, giving them the tools to compete in a rapidly evolving workplace and helping to strengthen Wyoming’s economy.”

The WIN initiative will have the state's higher education institutions collaborate and develop strategic programming in key areas focused on Wyoming’s needs. It includes an emphasis on focusing workforce development on high-potential areas; supporting and training entrepreneurs and new business startups; a research and market analysis agenda aimed at technology transfer and commercialization; and developing outside revenue sources such as corporate partnerships to provide new opportunities for students.

UW President Ed Seidel will chair a committee directing the effort that includes higher education leadership from around the state.

“Wyoming’s institutions of higher education are excited to take our relationships to a higher level with a focus on helping propel the state’s economy,” Seidel says. “Our discussions have identified some excellent opportunities for collaboration, and we’re committed to pursuing them for the benefit of our students and the people of Wyoming.”

WIN is intended to support the state’s overall economic vision set forth by the Wyoming Business Council and support education attainment goals developed by the state. Gordon stresses that this collaborative approach will allow the state to better focus its resources to assist both existing industries and areas identified as having significant growth potential.

“Our goal is a unified effort that will help catalyze economic development, strengthen our workforce, support Wyoming businesses and enhance our ability to attract businesses from outside the state,” the governor says.

“While they have different and distinct missions, complementary and synergistic efforts are already underway between the community colleges and university,” says Casper College President Darren Divine, representing the presidents of all seven community colleges. “This new effort will enhance Wyoming’s ability to meet the challenges created by our current economic environment.”

Work has already begun on the WIN effort. Development is underway for a software engineering program that could ultimately be offered across all community colleges and UW. In addition, tourism and hospitality programs and entrepreneurship training programs for a variety of marketing sectors are under development.

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