UW Highlights

As Wyoming’s only university, UW is committed to explore, create, and share knowledge. Wyoming Public Media captures the work of scholars, learners, and leaders who are committed to serving the state of Wyoming and contributing to national and international intellectual growth. You can hear some of our stories and features on these pages. They reflect the work of hundreds of individuals dedicated to the University of Wyoming vision to imagine the future and to create it.

Mark Jenkins

Adventurer Mark Jenkins of Laramie gets assignments all over the world for National Geographic, the magazine he writes for. He’s climbed Mount Everest, bicycled across Siberia, and even skied in Central Asia with the world’s oldest ski culture. Now, he’s one-upped himself.

To find out more about his expedition to the caves of Vietnam, I met with Jenkins in his gear room, a very orderly nook in the basement of his house, stacked with well-labeled bins full of outdoor equipment. It’s here that all of his adventures begin.

Caroline Ballard

Latino influence is growing in America across the board, including in conservation issues and outdoor recreation. One of the people leading this charge is Jose Gonzalez, the founder of Latino Outdoors, an organization that aims to increase the Hispanic community’s contact with the outdoors.

uwyo.edu

Four Shakespeare plays open next week in Laramie as part of the University of Wyoming's Shakespeare Project. Then, they’ll all fan out across the state on tour. (See below for locations.) The plays are staged in the signature style of Actors From The London Stage—just five actors and minimal props. One of the plays coming to Wyoming is a professional production. The other three are University of Wyoming student productions, directed by Actors From The London Stage.

Jose Gonzalez-Latino Outdoors

 

This Thursday, the University of Wyoming Haub School will host a talk by Jose Gonzalez, founder of the national group, “Latinos Outdoors.” Gonzalez says Latinos have a growing passion for conservation issues like climate change and wilderness preservation. But he says, right now, there are still major obstacles to getting Latinos access to the great outdoors.

        

UW Photo

Concert goers have their choice of two unusual concerts coming up this week at the University of Wyoming. One is a biennial concerto competition for students. The other brings together musicians from three continents for the Wyoming premier of a Brazilian piece. 

Stephanie Joyce

A year ago, a petroleum engineering degree seemed like the ticket to a bright and well-paid future. With six-figure starting salaries for a bachelor’s degree and endless optimism about the shale revolution, enrollment climbed rapidly in petroleum engineering programs across the country. But now that the oil price slide has turned to an oil price slump, the luster is wearing off.

When Evan Lowry first enrolled at the University of Wyoming, his plan was to be a chemical engineer, like his dad, but the oil industry was booming and he quickly changed his mind.

uwyo.edu

Every two years, student musicians at the University of Wyoming compete in the Jacoby Competition. Six students will perform as soloists with the UW Symphony Orchestra on Thursday, February 26. The winner will be named the university’s finest student musician and will win a cash award. Wyoming Public Radio’s Micah Schweizer asked UW Symphony directory Michael Griffith to explain the judging process.

Bob Beck / Natrona County High School

This year, a University of Wyoming program that helps low-income high school students plan for college will run out of funding, but backers hope to keep it going.

The Wyoming College Advising Corps is funded by a federal grant. Last year, the program provided resources to about 400 Wyoming students.

Project Director Teresa Nealon says there are 10 full-time advisors in schools around the state, counseling students about how to prepare for college.

University of Wyoming

Hands-on problem solving is the aim of a new project at the University of Wyoming. “WyoMakers” gives Junior High students in Laramie access to UW students and resources to work on design projects.

Tonia Dousay is the project’s founder, and says students think about problem solving more deeply when they create something, as opposed to simply memorizing information. For example, she says designing model boats with 3D printers gives students an opportunity to look closely at building materials and dimensions in a tangible way.

For sixteen years, the Banff Mountain Film Festival’s World Tour has made a yearly stop in Laramie. This is the first year it will be screened at the Gryphon Theater.

The festival features 20 films shown over two days. Films focus on outdoor recreation, adventure, and environmental issues, says Dan McCoy, one of the event organizers.

“So we’re going to show films that are more high-adrenaline – films about kayaking, about rock-climbing, [and] about adventure.”

Wikimedia Commons

In recent years there’s been plenty of discussion and a lot of worry in Wyoming about the future of coal. Politicians have blamed the federal government for the coal industry's struggles and pushed for coal export terminals to save it. But until now, there’s been very little data to back up the talk. This week, economists at the University of Wyoming previewed a study looking at coal’s role in the state economy as well as its prospects for the future. Rob Godby is the Director of the Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy and lead author of the report.

University of Wyoming

Jason Collins is a retired NBA player and was the first professional player in a major American sport to come out as gay. Since his announcement in 2013, Collins played briefly for the Brooklyn Nets and is now a public speaker and LGBT advocate. He's visiting the University of Wyoming as the keynote speaker for UW's MLK Days of Dialogue, and he joins Wyoming Public Radio's Caroline Ballard to talk about his career.

The event takes place tonight at 7:30 pm in the Wyoming Union Ballroom, and is open to the public.

Concealed guns would be allowed in schools, on college campuses, and in government meetings under a bill that will be considered by the Wyoming House of Representatives. 

The bill would repeal gun free zones and was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on an 8-1 vote. Gun supporters say the legislation could keep schools safe, but education organizations and State Superintendent Jillian Balow oppose the measure. Chris Boswell of the University of Wyoming says the bill is problematic.

The University of Wyoming has appointed a new dean for its College of Engineering. Dr. Michael Pishko, a biomedical engineering professor at Texas A&M University, will take over the job on March 1st.

The engineering school has been without a permanent dean for more than a year. Pishko takes the reigns amid a legislatively-mandated push to become a “top-tier” engineering program. That effort is backed by more than $130 million in state funds and private donations.

Ron McIntosh

The Wyoming Technology Business Center at the University of Wyoming has recently started a program to assist artists in the region to develop business skills so they can become more self- sufficient. Wyoming Public Radio’s Pat Gabriel talked with the center's CEO Jon Benson and its Marketing Coordinator Fred Schmechel about why they think the program could be so helpful for Wyoming artists. They're also joined by the program's very first artist, Ron McIntosh.

The awards given to college students under Wyoming’s Hathaway Scholarship Program have not kept up with tuition increases at the University of Wyoming and the state’s community colleges. Some Wyoming lawmakers support increasing the awards and are weighing their options for the upcoming legislative session—which begins next week. 

The scholarship started in 2006, and wasn’t increased at all until last year’s budget session—when lawmakers bumped it up 5 percent. 

Caroline Ballard

Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard sat down with Phil Roberts, a history professor at the University of Wyoming, to understand more about the history of booms and busts in Wyoming. He says it's a cycle the state has gone through many times before.

Last month’s visit to Wyoming by former world chess champion Garry Kasparov wasn’t just about global politics (listen to his interview here)—it was also about chess.

Stefan Heinz and his 13-year-old son Jakob had a chance to chat with Kasparov during his visit. “It was really extraordinary to meet him,” says Jakob. “He’s probably the smartest person I’ve ever met. Actually, definitely [the smartest].” (Did Kasparov show him how to win a game in three moves? Unfortunately, “no.”)

Caroline Ballard

Protesters filled Simpson Plaza in front of the University of Wyoming last Thursday. They were calling for an end to police brutality and racism, following grand jury decisions to not indict police officers in the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York. Protesters and observers had a variety of viewpoints:

Caroline Ballard

 

A protest organized by University of Wyoming Students called for an end to police brutality, following grand jury decisions to not indict police officers in the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner.

Protesters chanted slogans like “hands up, don’t shoot”, “no justice no peace” and “I can’t breathe.” Black armbands dotted the arms of attendees and neon and cardboard signs were dispersed throughout the crowd.

Every four years, the University of Wyoming stages the classic holiday ballet, The Nutcracker. It’s a major undertaking involving the Department of Theatre and Dance, the UW Symphony Orchestra, and the Lab School Treble Choir, as well as numerous community members. In all, it takes 200 people to put on the show. Director Marsha Knight says the production is set at the Ivinson Mansion, in Old West Laramie, as it has been since 2006.

USDA photo by Scott Bauer

A great deal of research is happening right now on why mule deer populations are declining so fast in the state… and now the University of Wyoming and Wyoming Game and Fish are offering a week-long Tweet Event to let the public participate in the capture and collaring of mule deer. 

Bob Beck / WPM

Governor Matt Mead has proposed a new athletic training center for the University of Wyoming. The facility would cost forty million dollars and would be funded equally by the legislature and private donors.

Tom Burman is the Director of Athletics at U-W and says the facility would serve athletes from all U-W sports-teams. He also says it could attract business from Olympic-level athletes.

phideltatheta.org

When the renovations to the double A are complete, the main feature of the grand entrance will be a monument to one of Wyoming’s most prominent athletes.

Angus Thuermer / WyoFile

Last week, the Board of Trustees at the University of Wyoming approved a 5 percent tuition hike for the next academic year—and 4 percent increases for each year after that. Most of that extra revenue will be used to fund employee salary increases.

Some employees and students question the move.

Faculty Senate Chair Ed Janak says the raises are much-needed, but he isn’t sure tuition hikes are the right idea.

Former World Chess Champion and Russian political activist Garry Kasparov was in Cheyenne and Laramie last Friday to discuss global politics and American leadership. Kasparov says under President Vladimir Putin, Russia presents the greatest threat to global security.

“It seems that he believes, and his cronies keep repeating it, that Putin is Russia and Russia is Putin, which means his personal failure he may consider as a signal to bring the entire country down with him.”

Prior to election night the University of Wyoming conducted a survey of state residents about their views on candidates and their attitudes about some key issues. University of Wyoming Professor Jim King joins Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck to discuss what they found.

In 1994 University of Wyoming Botany Professor Dennis Knight wrote a book about Wyoming’s landscapes and some of the challenges they may be facing. Now 20 years later, Knight is joined by other authors to provide an update. The book is called Mountains and Plain: The Ecology of Wyoming Landscapes. We spoke with Knight when he wrote his first book and today he admits to Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck that some of the challenges the state faces today were not on his radar.

University of Wyoming

Last year, the University of Wyoming saw many of its top-performing faculty leave the school to take jobs elsewhere. Gregory Nickerson is the government and policy reporter for WyoFile.com. He wrote a story recently looking at this faculty exodus, its potential causes, its impacts—and what efforts UW is making to keep faculty around. Nickerson spoke with Wyoming Public Radio’s Aaron Schrank.

Pages