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Ed Seidel outlines his goals for taking the University of Wyoming forward.
By Micaela Myers
One day soon, you may see a new face at Snowy Range Ski Area—the University of Wyoming’s 28th president, Ed Seidel. However, having taken the reins July 1, he realizes there’s a lot to accomplish before he can hit the slopes.
Seidel says many things drew him to the position, starting with the fact that it is the land-grant university in Wyoming with so much impact across the state. Add to this its many strengths and assets already in place, such as a strong UW Foundation, state-of-the-art facilities and Division I athletics. With its wonderful location, UW seemed perfect for Seidel.
Even before starting July 1, over the spring and summer, Seidel put significant energy into getting to know the community—the university, Laramie and the state.
“I’ve been making a lot of calls to get to know people—from the mayor to the foundation board. I’ve talked to many current and former governors and Sen. Al Simpson. Everyone has been so welcoming,” he said in June.
Seidel has a number of broad goals that together will help drive UW to be a leading 21st century land-grant university. These include making the university more digital; creating an entrepreneurial mindset; fostering interdisciplinary collaboration; and promoting diversity and inclusion.
Having worked for the University of Illinois since 2014 (see sidebar), Seidel comes with a great deal of experience on how to advance land-grant universities for the 21st century.
“I want to take the university and move it to the next level of excellence,” Seidel says. “Increasingly, universities are thought of as engines of innovation, not just workforce development.” This includes laying a foundation that over time can help to modernize and diversify the economy, efforts Seidel led in Illinois. He envisions the university working closely with communities across the state to develop programs to do this.
An important aspect of advancing UW will include increased efforts in computing, data and artificial intelligence—all key to the modern workplace.
“UW needs to be strong in these areas,” he says, adding that these realms are not just for engineering and computer science but apply across the entire university.
Seidel also wants to see an entrepreneurial mindset developed throughout—from faculty going after more grants to the student experience and creating new businesses that enhance the state.
A third goal is to increase interdisciplinary collaboration, “the idea of bringing expertise from across the university together with communities to work together on difficult problems facing Wyoming, such as diversifying the economy or rural health care,” Seidel says.
“A fourth goal is to enhance inclusivity, diversity and equity at the university, all of which are critical for innovations that will benefit everyone in the state.” he says. “We need all four of these goals to excel as a leading 21st century land-grant university that impacts the entire state and region.”
Along with these goals, he wants to continue to embrace the university’s traditions and culture. “I want to make sure we stay true to the Wyoming’s roots. I love ‘The World Needs More Cowboys,’ and I hope to become accepted as a cowboy myself,” Seidel says. “We want more Cowboys to become entrepreneurs, designers, and computer scientists or to pursue other creative vocations that will drive the state’s future. Students from all majors can be prepared to contribute back to the building of this new economy so the state will thrive in the future.”
When Ed Seidel interviewed for the position of president at the University of Wyoming, COVID-19 was barely on the state’s radar. “It’s amazing how rapidly this developed,” he says, praising the university’s quick response. As the university restarted on-campus operations this fall, Seidel’s focus remains on safety. “I want to make sure it’s a safe place to work and attend school, that we’re able to be nimble when infections are detected, and then we’re able to respond quickly to keep people safe,” he says. “We need not only to detect but track infections, contacts and so on.” Seidel also wants to make sure students are supported in all ways, including financially. “Student success is the primary directive,” he says.
Visit uwyo.edu/campus-return for more on UW’s COVID-19 response.
Welcome to Gabrielle Allen
Ed Seidel’s partner, Gabrielle Allen, serves at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as associate dean for research in the College of Education, professor in the departments of Astronomy and Curriculum and Instruction, and research professor in the Department of Computer Science.
“She was very excited about moving to Wyoming as well,” Seidel says, adding that Allen is the one who introduced him to hiking and camping. They look forward to enjoying a state that celebrates the outdoors, and he wants to make sure this aspect of Wyoming is promoted as the university recruits students and faculty talent.
Resume At-A-Glance: Ed Seidel brings an impressive record in higher education to his presidency at the University of Wyoming.
Ph.D. in relativistic astrophysics, Yale University, 1988. M.Phil. (1988), M.S. (1987), Yale University. M.S. in physics, University of Pennsylvania, 1983. B.S. in mathematics and physics, College of William and Mary, 1981
Positions held, 2014–20:
University of Illinois System, vice president for economic development and innovation and leader of the Illinois Innovation Network, a consortium of 15 sites including all four-year public universities in Illinois. Founding interim director of the Discovery Partners Institute, an interdisciplinary campus of the University of Illinois System and other partners worldwide. University of Illinois, Founder Professor, Department of Physics; professor, Departments of Astronomy and Computer Science, Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environment. National Center for Supercomputing Applications, senior research scientist and came to Illinois in 2014 as its director.
Senior vice president for research and innovation and professor, Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, Moscow, Russia, 2012–14. National Science Foundation, assistant director for mathematical and physical sciences, 2009–12; director of the Office of Cyberinfrastructure, 2008–10. Founding director, Center for Computation and Technology, Louisiana State University, 2003–08. Floating Point Systems professor, Louisiana State University Departments of Physics and Computer Science, 2003–10. Chief scientist, Louisiana Optical Network Initiative, 2004–08. Professor and head of numerical relativity and eScience research groups, Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, Albert Einstein Institute, Germany, 1996–2005. Associate professor of physics and astronomy, University of Illinois, 1996. Senior research scientist, head of numerical relativity group, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, and visiting associate professor of Physics, University of Illinois, 1991–96.
Visit uwyo.edu/president to learn more.