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By Ed Seidel
Our world is increasingly interconnected. In every sphere, from commerce to entertainment, from social activity to research and scholarship, the people of the world interact with one another in ways we couldn’t have imagined 50 or even 20 years ago. As the world’s oldest modern democracy, the United States plays an international leadership role in many areas. In particular, our nation’s universities continue to lead the world in research and education, and we at the University of Wyoming are proud to be among those institutions that are visible and revered around the globe.
In preparing our graduates to be successful in this increasingly competitive global marketplace, it is essential that we expose them to international ideas, challenges, cultures, languages and practices. We are fortunate here at UW to continue attracting and building strong international partnerships, which enrich our state while helping provide top-notch education for our students. This issue of UWyo Magazine explores a number of these connections.
Not the least of these is our education-abroad program, which is anchored by the Richard B. and Lynne V. Cheney Study Abroad Scholarship Endowment — the largest land-grant university study-abroad scholarship endowment in the nation. Dozens of UW’s students annually receive robust financial support to visit and study in countries across the world, and they return with expanded perspectives and experiences that make them more informed citizens and future employees, better prepared to engage in the global environment in which we live. I’ve talked to many students who say these opportunities are among the best that UW, or any university, has to offer, and they feel excited and fortunate to be able to take advantage of them. The pandemic made studying abroad difficult, but we’re working to encourage and make it possible for more of UW’s students to have opportunities for international experiences — some of which you can read about in this issue.
The pandemic had a similar impact on the numbers of international students attending UW, but those numbers are beginning to rebound. We have students, faculty and staff from over 80 countries around the world, immeasurably enriching our community. We’ve made an institutional commitment to grow international enrollment, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, enhancing the experience for all UW students, sharing their perspectives and cultures while they soak in all that Wyoming has to offer. Even if they themselves do not go abroad for their studies, our Wyoming students have told me that their interactions with our international communities have helped prepare them for their careers and future studies. Our international students, a number of whom you can read about in this issue, go on to become ambassadors for UW across the globe — and some even stay and apply their talents and skills in Wyoming to develop their lives and careers.
Many of our UW faculty and staff bring expertise obtained from their studies and experiences from around the world. They have made Wyoming their home and are proud citizens of the Cowboy State, and many of them are working on innovations to improve the state’s economy, to enhance its cultural resources and to address Wyoming challenges. Likewise, a good number of our faculty members conduct research at international locations, gaining insights that benefit Wyoming and the world. You can read about a number of these faculty members in this issue as well.
During my professional career, I have spent a significant number of years overseas, learning from and absorbing a broad perspective on so many topics. And my partner, Gabrielle Allen, is from the United Kingdom. While I couldn’t be happier to be here in the Intermountain West leading Wyoming’s flagship and land-grant university, my international experiences have helped shape who I am and how I see the world. They also have informed my belief that UW has the potential to become an even stronger force for Wyoming’s future economy — and contributor to solving national and international challenges.
In many respects, UW is our state’s portal to the world around us — a place where Wyoming meets the world and where the world meets Wyoming. That is as it should be. Our challenge is to strengthen this international role to provide even more benefits for our students and our state, and we are working to do just that.
Ed Seidel is the 28th president of the University of Wyoming.