UW Highlights

As Wyoming’s only university, the University of Wyoming 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.

Annie Leibovitz via David Solomon

Award winning author Andrew Solomon will speak at the University of Wyoming on Wednesday, April 22, about his book "Far From the Tree" where he presents stories from parents who have raised children in a variety of circumstances. Some are gay, some have schizophrenia, some are dwarfs, some have autism, others are profound.

University of Wyoming

University of Wyoming President Dick McGinity says he will step down when his contract expires next year, so that the UW Trustees can set its sights on a long term replacement.

“I just said to the board that I think it’s in the University’s interests and really a responsibility of the board to undertake a search for somebody who’s gonna pick up the ball and carry it for the next eight…ten years or so.”

The 71 year old McGinity says with some exciting science and engineering initiatives getting under way this is the perfect time for the University to find a new leader. 

One way to tell how schools are doing with computer science is to look at how many students take the Advancement Placement exam for the subject. And, in the entire state of Wyoming, over the past four years, just one student took the AP computer science exam.

That one student was Casey Mueller—and the distinction is news to him.

“I was not aware of that, actually,” says Mueller. “I was kind of shocked in one sense. But, on the other hand, there was part of me that wasn’t surprised.”

Rebecca Martinez

The new dean of the University of Wyoming’s College of Engineering and Applied Science began his tenure last month. He took on the job amid a state and industry-backed push to boost the school’s status nationwide.

Dean Michael Pishko says the so-called ‘Tier 1’ Engineering Initiative—which was announced three years ago—is not simply looking to deliver a bump in the U.S. News & World Report college rankings.

The Shepard Symposium on Social Justice is underway at the University of Wyoming and will be featuring several spotlight events the rest of this week. Two of the events this weekend are photography sessions for The Self Evident Truths Project. iO Tillett Wright is the founder of and photographer for the project, as well as an LGBT activist. She’s attempting to photograph 10,000 people in all 50 states who identify as anything other than 100% straight in hopes of showing Americans the diverse makeup of the LGBT community.

The University of Wyoming’s annual Shepard Symposium on Social Justice began Wednesday night. The four-day event was named for Matthew Shepard and the activism of his surviving family members. It features panels and presentations focusing on race, sexual orientation, gender, disability, and social justice issues.

UW

The University of Wyoming is urging its community to pull together after a pair of apparent student suicides on campus over the past week.

Last Tuesday, the University says a freshman student from Ohio was found dead in a vehicle on campus.

This week, a 19-year-old freshman male student from Jackson, Wyoming was found dead inside a residence hall.

“The fact that two happened so closely together is absolutely a huge concern,” says University spokesman Chad Baldwin.

He says UW is offering counseling to students who have difficulty coping with the incidents.

University of Wyoming

The Hess Corporation announced a $15 million donation to the University of Wyoming’s School of Energy Resources Thursday. Hess has now given a total of  $25 million to UW, making the oil and gas giant the largest corporate donor in the university’s history.

The funds will go towards construction of UW’s High Bay Research Facility—as well as equipment used in the facility and some proprietary research done there. Hess’s research will focus mostly on figuring out how to tap hard-to-reach oil and gas reservoirs.

Willow Belden

Some University of Wyoming professors have been traveling to fourth grade classrooms around the state in an effort to research and improve the teaching of Wyoming history.

The project combines history with art and hands-on activities. Education professors Allen Trent and Peter Moran plan to bring it to each of the state’s counties by the end of this school year.

The lesson plans and resources they use are all online for any Wyoming teacher to access. Trent says that’s important.

Associated Press

The Wyoming Cowboys will face Northern Iowa in the NCAA men's basketball tournament on Friday in Seattle. The Pokes received an automatic berth after winning the Mountain West Conference Tournament over the weekend. It’s Wyoming’s first appearance in the tournament since 2002.

It’s been a tough few years for the Cowboys who’ve had to overcome a series of incidents including injuries and illness. Head Coach Larry Shyatt said those incidents have made the team mentally tough.

uwyo.edu

Here’s something that will be of particular interest to anyone who’s ever played the piano. Chi-Chen Wu teaches piano at the University of Wyoming and has a new CD out this month.

For this recording of Schumann’s sonatas for violin and piano, she uses an old version of the instrument: a fortepiano. So Wyoming Public Radio’s Micah Schweizer asked Chi-Chen Wu the obvious question: what’s a fortepiano?

Melodie Edwards

Our Cultural Affairs Director, Micah Schweizer, used a recent lunch break to create some culture at this spring's BioMusica concert at UW's Berry Biodiversity Center. Here he is, performing on the baritone ukulele with Sharon Martinson from the Littlest Birds

 

Well known Casper businessman and philanthropist Mick McMurry died early Tuesday morning at home. He was 69.

Caroline Ballard

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, politicians, and energy industry reps gathered at the University of Wyoming Monday to break ground on a state-of-the-art building .

The $53.5 million dollar High-Bay Research Facility was funded mostly by the state government, but over $16 million of that came from energy companies. UW President Dick McGinity says their financial support points to a key partnership between industry, government, and higher education.

Rebecca Martinez

The student population at the University of Wyoming has grown slightly over the past year. UW reports that 162 more students attend the University than did last spring.

The College of Engineering and Applied Science has seen most of the recent growth. Its student population is up 9% or about 150 students from last year.

New Engineering Dean Michael Pishko says despite the downturn in the oil industry, companies are still looking to hire new engineers.

University of Wyoming

Five new members will be joining the University of Wyoming’s Board of Trustees. They will take over for members whose terms have expired and the late Warren Lauer who died last year.

Mel Baldwin, John McKinley, Dick Scarlett, Michelle Sullivan and Mike Massie were appointed by the governor and approved by the senate. All will serve until 2021 except for Massie, who is serving Lauer’s term until 2017. The Next Board of Trustees meeting will be at the end of this month.

University President Dick McGinity says the new members will be key in moving the Board forward.

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.

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