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To date, approximately 9,300 scholarships have been awarded to students with the help of endowments matched by the state. In addition, 30 endowed faculty positions in excellence aid in attracting and retaining top faculty. Most visible around campus, however, are the stunning facilities and programs that matching funds helped create, such as the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, the Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center, the Literacy Research Center and Clinic, and numerous others, including renovations to many of the athletics facilities. In all, at least 20 facilities received matching funds thus far.
One example is the 27,300-square-foot Energy Innovation Center (EIC) that opened in 2013. Clearly cutting edge, the new home of the School of Energy Resources (SER) is a vision of what the future holds for UW students and researchers. Technology such as the Shell 3-D Visualization Laboratory allows scientists and engineers to literally step inside their data sets.
The EIC and SER illustrate what matching dollars can accomplish, says Rob Hurless, deputy director of the SER. The $25.4 million EIC was made possible through private donations and state of Wyoming matching funds, including corporate donations from Encana Corp., BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Peabody Energy Inc., Arch Coal Inc., Marathon Oil Corp., Questar Corp., ConocoPhillips Co., Cordillera Energy Partners, QEP Resources Inc., Cloud Peak Energy, Double Eagle Petroleum Co. and WPX Energy. “I think you get so much more substantive and much more beneficial conversations by using the matching program,” Hurless says. “It makes a world of difference when you invite somebody to participate, and you acknowledge that the money is important, but you really say, ‘We want your guidance and perspective.’ It sets the stage for an ongoing conversation. As they become engaged, they see potential for research that’s interesting and potentially useful to the industry and their company as a participant in the industry. That research ties back to UW’s land-grant mission and saying we need to participate in the economy of the state.”
These industry partnerships can be seen once again as UW works to become a top quartile academic and research institution in areas of excellence appropriate for Wyoming. To aid professors and students in conducting key research, the planned energy and engineering High Bay Research Facility will house labs where large-scale experiments can be conducted, including a digital rock physics lab, geomechanics lab, a core-flood facility and a structural engineering lab, along with the supporting facilities and personnel to manage the facility.
Initial funding for the facility included $15 million in private donations, doubled by a $15 million appropriation from the Legislature. Another $10.5 million to match industry investments for technology and equipment was approved during the 2014 legislative session. Private donations matched by state dollars for the High Bay Research Facility have already come from companies including Hess Corp., Halliburton Co., ExxonMobil, Ultra Petroleum Corp., Marathon Oil Corp., Baker Hughes Inc., Royal Dutch Shell and Arch Coal Inc.
“State match dollars have truly created UW’s corporate giving program,” Blalock says. “When Gov. Dave Freudenthal worked with the Legislature in 2006 to initiate a major energy agenda for UW, which became the UW School of Energy Resources, the university suddenly had immediate alignment with our state’s energy industry. State match dollars provided the incentive needed to encourage corporate giving to UW. Now under Gov. Matt Mead’s Tier 1 commitment for UW’s energy, engineering and STEM programs, UW’s corporate giving programs are growing dramatically each and every year.”
During the 2014 legislative session, the state appropriated $5 million in matching funds for an endowed chair in petroleum engineering. An additional $5 million in state matching dollars will be available with an emphasis on disciplines directly related to Wyoming’s economy.