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University of Wyoming

UW Names Building After Worland Native, Archaeologist George Frison

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The University of Wyoming’s Anthropology Building now bears the name of George Frison, a Worland native and UW graduate who achieved international acclaim as an archaeologist during a lengthy career as a university faculty member.

The UW Board of Trustees voted Friday to name the building in Frison’s honor, at the request of the university’s Anthropology Department, the university’s naming committee and President Ed Seidel.

The George C. Frison Building, a 53,000-square-foot facility that was completed in 2007, houses the Department of Anthropology, the State Archaeologist’s Office, the cultural records section of the State Historic Preservation Office, the Frison Institute, the State Archaeological Repository and the Anthropology Museum.

“Naming of buildings for certain individuals is a very rare honor at UW, but this is clearly a case when it’s absolutely appropriate,” Seidel said. “Dr. Frison was a huge figure in archaeology and put Wyoming and UW on the map in this important field of study. This is a great way to honor his legacy.”

Frison, who founded the Department of Anthropology and was the first state archaeologist, is the only UW faculty member ever elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

He died Sept. 6, 2020, at the age of 95.

“It’s only right that the university honor Dr. Frison’s decades of service to UW and the state by putting his name on the building that houses the programs that would not exist if not for his efforts,” said Professor Todd Surovell, head of the Department of Anthropology. “He easily ranks among the greatest field archaeologists in the history of American archaeology. His contributions to the field of archaeology, the Department of Anthropology, the University of Wyoming and the state of Wyoming cannot be overstated.”

Frison was born Nov. 11, 1924, in Worland and grew up on his grandparents’ ranch near Ten Sleep. He spent his early years working sheep and cattle and spent his spare time collecting arrowheads, exploring caves in the Bighorn Mountains while developing a love for the history and prehistory of Wyoming.

He enrolled at UW in 1942, but his education was cut short when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving in the forces of the South Pacific during World War II.

After being honorably discharged in 1946, he returned to the family ranch.

While operating the ranch, Frison joined the Wyoming Archaeological Society and was an avocational archaeologist, discovering numerous artifacts including atlatl and dart fragments.

His interactions with UW Professor William Mulloy prompted Frison to enroll at UW in 1962 at the age of 37 to finish his undergraduate work.

After earning his master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Michigan, Frison returned to UW in 1967 to head the new Department of Anthropology and serve as the first state archaeologist, a position he held until 1984.

During his decades of work at UW, Frison made major contributions to the understanding of the prehistory of the northwestern Great Plains in the areas of chipped stone technology, bison bone beds, Paleoindian systematics and Plains chronology.

His many books and papers, which include “Prehistoric Hunters of the High Plains,” made him an internationally recognized figure in archaeology.

More than 70 students graduated with the Master of Arts degree in anthropology during his tenure at UW, and many more students attended his classes and graduated with undergraduate degrees from the Department of Anthropology.

His many awards include the lifetime achievement award from the Society for American Archaeology, a Regents’ Fellowship Award from the Smithsonian Institution, UW’s George Duke Humphrey Distinguished Faculty Award, UW’s Medallion Service Award and the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Alumni Award.

Frison retired from the Anthropology Department in 1995, but continued to serve as professor emeritus.

He was named to the National Academy of Sciences in 1997.

Among his legacies is the George C. Frison Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology at UW, which funds archaeological research, supports student and faculty participation in international research and education opportunities, sponsors an annual lecture and public talks and provides for volunteer participation in field and lab programs.

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UW Reverses Decision To Mass Test Everyone For COVID Due To Worries Of Further Spread

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Concerns over the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant have prompted University of Wyoming officials to reverse their decision to test everyone who would be spending time on campus during the upcoming spring semester.

University officials said Monday, they will instead allow for voluntary COVID testing by students and staff.

University officials said they were concerned the risk of a mass testing event such as the one proposed earlier leading to a greater spread of the disease would outweigh any benefits from the testing.

“We are concerned about COVID spreading on campus, with or without the one-time testing of everyone,” UW spokesman Chad Baldwin told Cowboy State Daily on Monday. “That’s why we’re continuing our weekly random-sample testing, indoor mask requirement (until at least Feb. 16) and strong encouragement of vaccinations and boosters. At the same time, we’re encouraged by the fact that Omicron appears to be causing less severe illness, and there is reason for optimism that the Omicron wave will pass relatively quickly.”

Instead of requiring all students and employees to be test for COVID this week in advance of the spring semester scheduled to begin Jan. 18, the university will offer voluntary testing for members of the campus community. There are plans to resume weekly random sample tests of 3% of the campus community.

“There’s already good reason to believe that the virus, particularly the Omicron variant, is widespread in our community. Positivity rates are now growing rapidly, and the risk of creating an environment for further transmission at a mass testing event likely would offset information we would gain from it,” UW President Ed Seidel said. “We’re making this late change in plans in response to the rapidly changing landscape caused by Omicron, which is highly transmissible but appears to cause less severe illness than previous versions of COVID-19.”

As of Thursday, there were 82 active cases of COVID-19 among the UW community: 22 employees, 15 on-campus students and 45 off-campus students. As of Friday, Albany County had 280 active COVID cases.

“Based upon what we’re seeing around the country and the state, it is no longer practical to think that we’re going to contain the Omicron variant in our community,” Seidel said. “What we can do is encourage people to take actions to protect their personal health, and that of their families and friends, by mitigating the spread to the extent possible and reducing the chance of severe illness, hospitalization and death.”

University officials will continue to emphasize the UW’s current mask requirement for most indoor spaces and encourage vaccination and boosters.

“While it appears the semester will start with a lot of COVID, with a shift toward milder symptoms or even asymptomatic infections, experts say there’s reason for optimism that we will emerge from pandemic conditions sooner than later,” Seidel said.

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Former UW Cowboy Donates $1M To Improve War Memorial Stadium

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A former University of Wyoming football player and his wife have given a generous donation to support planned renovations for the university’s War Memorial Stadium.

Cody Ritchie and his wife Patsy donated $1 million to support west-side upgrades to the stadium, according to university officials. This is the first major gift to support these renovations.

“Although my time on the football team was brief, I have been a Wyoming Cowboy fan since we moved to Wyoming in 1976,” Ritchie said.

The improvement project is still being finalized but will include improvements and upgrades to the restrooms, concessions, seating, Americans with Disabilities Act compliance and the press area. The project will be supported by private gifts and funding from the Wyoming State Legislature.

“Cody and Patsy are so passionate about this university and so committed to the overall mission of UW athletics,” Tom Burman, UW athletics director, said. “Cody talks frequently about the importance of the Cowboys as a means to keep engaged when you are forced to start your career outside of Wyoming. Tracking the Cowboys from long distance keeps you engaged with your college and brings you back to campus.”

Ritchie was born in Canada, and his family moved to Wyoming when he was 11. He attended junior high in Cody and graduated from Natrona County High School in Casper.  

After high school, he attended UW, walking on to the football team and later playing rugby. 

In 1987, Ritchie earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UW and went on to earn a master’s in exercise sport science and athletic administration from the University of Arizona in 1991, where he was an intern for the Wildcat Club. 

“From the time I was 12 years old, I wanted to attend UW, where my older brother Linden also graduated,” Ritchie said. “My time at UW and our family’s years in Wyoming helped forge lifelong friendships that mean the world to me.”

Ritchie is now the founder, CEO and managing partner of Crest Insurance Group, a full-service insurance brokerage licensed in all 50 states. Crest Insurance Group employs more than 250 people in Arizona, California and Colorado.

The company specializes in commercial property, casualty and workers’ compensation insurance, bonds, employee benefits, personal auto insurance, umbrella and homeowners’ insurance, and individual life and health insurance.

The Ritchies are Wyoming athletics fans and avid supporters of the university, and this is the latest in a long line of gifts from the couple. They have also given in support of the College of Business, the Cowboy Joe Club, the Wyoming rugby team, War Memorial Stadium enhancements and athletics facilities projects.

“Living in Wyoming and graduating from UW have provided me with an immense sort of pride,” Ritchie said. “Being able to donate back to Wyoming athletics is an honor and a privilege. In doing so, it’s not just about bricks and mortar. It’s about reinvesting in people. The ‘giving-a-hand-up’ philosophy will help future generations of Cowboys and Cowgirls have a positive impact in our society. I ride for the brand.”

The Ritchies live in Tucson, Arizona.

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University Of Wyoming Officials Delay Eliminating Some Programs Until 2023

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

University of Wyoming officials have proposed delaying the elimination of some programs and staff positions until 2023, it was announced on Friday.

Officials will present the proposal to the UW board of trustees later this month. The proposal, which follows months of development informed by thorough review and feedback from internal and external stakeholders, aims to position the university for a vibrant future at a time of uncertain state revenues, economic shifts and a changing higher-education landscape.

“We must consider where we are headed at the same time we make changes to budgets of our various units in response to reductions in recent years,” UW President Ed Seidel said. “The academic reorganization plan, combined with new initiatives to improve the student experience and higher education’s role in Wyoming’s economy, sets the stage for new synergies, scholarly coherence and efficiencies that aren’t possible under the university’s current structure. Overall, the plan aims to better serve our students and better position us for increased revenue streams from research agencies and corporate partnerships.”

Specifically, the proposal going before the trustees would, effective July 1, 2022, reorganize the College of Education, move and/or consolidate several academic departments and eliminate four low-enrollment graduate degree programs.

Additional academic reconfigurations, including movement of several academic departments from the current College of Arts and Sciences, and restructuring and renaming of the current College of Engineering and Applied Science and College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, wouldn’t be implemented until July 1, 2023, pending further refinement.

“After careful consideration of the feedback that we have received from faculty, students, staff and stakeholders, I believe additional time is needed for consideration of how best to implement the major reorganization of the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Engineering and Applied Science,” Provost and Executive Vice President Kevin Carman said. “I plan to engage in a robust discussion over the next year to carefully consider optimal alignments while minimizing unintended negative consequences of restructuring.”

While the proposed reorganizations were driven, in part, by budget considerations, they would not achieve the reductions necessary to respond to the drop in state funding and reallocate resources for the new initiatives: establishment of a School of Computing, a Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation, Tourism and Hospitality Initiative, which are integral to the new Wyoming Innovation Partnership involving UW and the state’s community colleges.

As a result, working with UW college deans, the Office of Academic Affairs has separately developed a budget reduction plan that achieves a $5.3 million reduction to academic programs, with work continuing for a total $13.6 million budget reduction.

Final details on reductions will come later, but the plan does include eliminating 20-25 faculty positions that have been vacated by resignations and retirements.

“We worked extremely hard with the deans to find ways to achieve our budget targets, continue to be strategic and not harm faculty who dedicate their careers to serving our students,” Seidel said. “We have succeeded in not eliminating faculty positions that are currently filled. And, by folding in final implementation of the reorganization with strategic planning, we will ensure strategic outcomes with faculty, staff and student input throughout the process.”

The proposal going to the Board of Trustees this month would:

  • Reorganize the College of Education effective July 1, 2022. The plan is for the college to have three divisions: one focused on educator preparation; one for graduate education; and one for innovation and engagement. A review committee would examine a proposal to discontinue two graduate degree programs, the Ph.D. in counseling and the Ph.D. in learning, design and technology.
  • Reorganize the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Engineering and Applied Science to better align the life and physical sciences, and the humanities, social sciences and arts, with full implementation by July 1, 2023.
  • Discontinue these degree programs: the Master of Arts in philosophy, the MBA in finance, the MBA in energy and the Ph.D. in statistics.

Among the changes that would take place by July 1, 2022:

  • Consolidation of the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
  • Movement of the Department of Physics and Astronomy from the College of Arts and Sciences to the College of Engineering and Applied Science, and consolidation of that department with the Department of Atmospheric Science.
  • Consolidation of the agricultural communications degree program with the Department of Communication and Journalism.
  • Movement of the American Studies Program into the School of Culture, Gender and Social Justice.

Among the changes that would take place by July 1, 2023, pending further refinement:

  • Movement of other physical sciences departments — Chemistry, Geology and Geophysics, and Mathematics and Statistics — from the College of Arts and Sciences to the College of Engineering and Applied Science.
  • Renaming of the College of Engineering and Applied Science, possibly to the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences.
  • Movement of the Department of Zoology and Physiology, the Department of Botany and the Life Sciences Program from the College of Arts and Sciences to the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. With the additional time, work will be done to determine the optimal structure for the consolidated program and to consider alternative placement of life sciences faculty with discipline-specific expertise that aligns better with other academic units, such as those in the College of Health Sciences.
  • Renaming of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, possibly to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
  • Restructuring of the College of Arts and Sciences to emphasize and elevate humanities, social sciences and arts. With the additional time, work will be done to, among other things: possibly launch a Ph.D. program in English; explore opportunities for other Ph.D. programs; and explore partnerships with the planned School of Computing.
  • Movement of the Nutrition Program to the Division of Kinesiology and Health in the College of Health Sciences.
  • Movement of the Human Development and Family Sciences Program, and the Early Care and Education Center to the College of Education. With the additional time, work will be done to consider alternative placement of the Human Development and Family Sciences Program and faculty with discipline-specific expertise that aligns better with other academic units; consider the appropriate academic home for the Design, Merchandising and Textiles Program; and consider discontinuation of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences.

The additional year also would allow careful review of the potential implications of the proposed reorganizations of the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Those considerations include reallocation of staff support and academic advising, redistribution of operating budgets, assignment and stewardship of endowments and administrative structure.

A number of degree programs initially targeted for elimination would be maintained under the provost’s recommendations: bachelor’s degrees in German and French, as well as in Spanish, German and French secondary education; master’s degrees in political science, international studies, sociology and architectural engineering; graduate degrees in entomology; and the master’s degree in family and consumer sciences, pending potential reorganization of that department.

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University Of Wyoming Says COVID Is To Blame For Enrollment Drop

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The COVID pandemic is largely to blame for a 3% decline in the University of Wyoming’s enrollment in the last year, a UW spokesman told Cowboy State Daily.

According to census data collected on the 15th day of classes, UW has enrolled a total of 11,479 students this semester, down 3% from the overall enrollment of 11,829 last fall. The 15th class day is used because it falls after the class drop/add deadlines, and after the first tuition and fee payment is due.

University spokesman Chad Baldwin said that there were various reasons for students leaving the university, but all of them were related to the pandemic in some way.

“Regarding the overall enrollment decline, we know that we lost hundreds of students last year because so many classes were taught online due to COVID-19 and because of the campus pandemic restrictions, not to mention the financial difficulties the pandemic caused for students and their families,” he told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday. “We’re working to re-recruit as many of them as possible, but research shows that once students pull out of college, a good number of them don’t return.”

The drop in nonresident students has been most pronounced, with a total of 3,644 students from out-of-state attending UW this fall, compared to 3,844 last fall.

There are 568 first-time nonresident students in this year’s class, down 6.7% from last fall’s 609.

During the 2020-21 school year, the university had limited in-person classes and events due to the pandemic. This year, the university board of trustees has implemented and indefinitely extended a mask mandate for anyone on campus.

The university has not implemented a vaccine mandate for either employees or students, but have created an incentive program for those who are vaccinated and also report it.

The university reported this week that the number of first-time students from Wyoming attending the university has grown by 11.5% this fall, contributing to an overall 3.7% increase in UW’s first-time student enrollment.

Some 909 students from Wyoming have enrolled in the state’s university for the first time, up from 815 the year before and topping the pre-pandemic number of 902 in fall 2019. As a result, the total number of first-time students this semester has grown to 1,477 from 1,424 last year.

“Our favorable in-state, first-time numbers are a reflection of intensive recruitment efforts and a return to a traditional fall semester with fewer pandemic restrictions, among other things,” Baldwin told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday.

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University Of Wyoming Sees 3% Drop In Enrollment This Year

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The University of Wyoming saw a 3% drop in enrollment for the 2021 fall semester, the university announced this week.

According to census data collected on the 15th day of classes, UW announced Monday it has enrolled a total of 11,479 students this semester, down 3% from the overall enrollment of 11,829 last fall. The 15th class day is used because it falls after the class drop/add deadlines, and after the first tuition and fee payment is due.

However, the university also noted the number of first-time students from Wyoming attending the university has grown by 11.5% this fall, contributing to an overall 3.7% increase in UW’s first-time student enrollment.

Some 909 students from Wyoming have enrolled in the state’s university for the first time, up from 815 the year before and topping the pre-pandemic number of 902 in fall 2019. As a result, the total number of first-time students this semester has grown to 1,477 from 1,424 last year.

“We’re excited that our class of new freshmen, particularly those from Wyoming, has increased. It’s a sign that we are on our way to recovering from the losses incurred by higher education institutions nationwide,” UW Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Kyle Moore said. “After we enrolled the two largest freshman classes in UW’s history in 2018 and 2019, the financial and other uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have been impactful and significant. We’re working hard to rebound as quickly as possible.”

The drop in nonresident students has been most pronounced, with a total of 3,644 students from out-of-state attending UW this fall, compared to 3,844 last fall.

There are 568 first-time nonresident students in this year’s class, down 6.7% from last fall’s 609.

At the same time, the number of nonresident transfer students enrolling this fall rose to 251 from 223 last year, a 12.6% increase.

“Across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many students to stay closer to home to start their college experience. It also has resulted in large decreases in community college enrollments in Wyoming and nationwide, which impacts transfer numbers,” Moore said. “The pandemic seriously hampered our ability last year to do face-to-face recruiting out of state and bring nonresidents in for campus visits, and that is reflected in our current numbers. We’re redoubling our efforts to recruit students from outside the state while still making recruitment of Wyoming students our No. 1 priority.”

There was also a 4.9% increase in graduate and professional students, rising from 2,610 from 2,487 last year. Moore credited collaborative marketing and recruitment efforts with academic departments as factors in the increase.

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University Of Wyoming Football Attendees Chant “F— Joe Biden” During Saturday Game

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A crowd at the University of Wyoming football game on Saturday followed what appears to be somewhat of a trend and participated in an obscene chant disparaging President Joe Biden, a video posted to social media showed.

It isn’t clear how many people are repeating the chant at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie, but their words can be heard distinctly: “F–k Joe Biden.”

The action received a mild rebuke from the University of Wyoming on Monday.

“The university doesn’t condone this type of behavior and encourages a family atmosphere at UW athletic competitions,” university spokesman Chad Baldwin said. “However, we recognize the right to free expression by our students and others. UW encourages respectful dialogue where there are political and other differences”

According to OutKick, a sports/political site founded by Clay Travis who replaced Rush Limbaugh on the radio earlier this year, this chant has become popular at college sports events all over the country, being heard at football games in Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi.

The chant also surfaced at anti-vaccine rally in New York on Saturday and a Luke Bryan concert in Ohio on Sunday.

At the show, Bryan appeared to laugh at the shouts but later strummed along to the chant.

“Hide the beer,” he laughed.

Trying to transition the crowd from the chant to his next song, Bryan lightly scolded the crowd by telling them the slogan “wasn’t nice” but said he loved them all anyway.

Saturday’s Wyoming clip was included in articles on a number of conservative website over the weekend including Breitbart and The Daily Caller.

The only major news site to mention the chant is Britain’s Daily Mail which reported the chants were also heard in Coastal Carolina, Virginia Tech, Auburn, Alabama State, Mississippi State, North Carolina State and Texas A&M.

More than 179,000 people had viewed the video of the UW football attendees chanting as of Monday morning. More than 250 people retweeted the video, with most of the users poking fun at the crowd for living in Wyoming in the first place.

“To be fair @wyoathletics@wyo_football are pretty irrelevant so they need something to get known for,” user Daniel Johnson wrote.

“PS… Wyoming comes to CT to play UConn next weekend, top 5 most liberal states in the country, this should be fun! Lol” user Nick G wrote.

“Wait aren’t we supposed to keep politics out of sports?” user Abby Kleinschmidt wrote.

“University of Wyoming is in Albany County. Albany County voted for Biden 48.8-46.1 in 2020. But it’s fun to chant in the U.S.A.,” user Dan wrote.

Some users also pointed out that coronavirus infection numbers continue to rise nationally and that people could likely get sick from attending the football game. Just over 36% of the state is fully vaccinated.

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University Of Wyoming Indefinitely Extends Mask Mandate

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The University of Wyoming has extended for an indefinite period of time its requirement that people within its buildings wear facemasks, the university announced on Friday.

The UW Board of Trustees voted Friday to extend the mask policy, as Albany County remains in the Wyoming Department of Health’s “moderate-high transmission levels” category for COVID-19. As of Thursday, the county had 150 active COVID cases.

“Our mask policy has helped us start our traditional fall semester without a major spike in COVID cases,” UW President Ed Seidel said. “We appreciate the willingness of our community members to follow this policy in classrooms, labs and high-traffic areas such as the Wyoming Union so that we can continue with in-person learning and activities.”

There currently are 63 active coronavirus cases among UW students and employees.

The policy will be revisited in subsequent board meetings.

Exceptions to the indoor mask requirement include voluntary public events such as athletics and music, theater and dance performances; voluntary social events; and private, by-invitation events that involve rental and/or use of UW spaces on campus.

For classes where the ability to see speakers’ mouths is essential, faculty members have the ability to seek exceptions to the masking policy.

Employees and students who have legitimate medical reasons to not wear masks can seek exceptions as well.

An additional exception approved by the board is for patrons of Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center when participating in recreational activities, sports or fitness, or when a spectator at a voluntary public recreational event. Half Acre patrons will still be required to wear masks when entering and exiting the building, at all customer service desks and in meeting rooms.

UW continues to strongly encourage COVID-19 vaccinations, as well as the reporting of those vaccinations. Those who report vaccinations become eligible for weekly prize drawings.

As of Monday, 4,282 UW students reported being vaccinated.

Of 2,877 total benefited employees, 2,191, 76.2%, reported receiving at least one vaccine dose. Adding in non-benefited employees, 3,457 of the total 6,372 staff and faculty members, 54.3 percent, reported receiving at least one dose.

In an anonymous survey at the start of the semester, 88% of employees and 66% of students said they had been vaccinated.

“We would love to see those numbers continue to increase, as vaccinations truly are the best hope for ending this pandemic,” Seidel said. “The vaccines are proven to be highly safe and effective in preventing infection and serious illness, even for the easily transmissible Delta variant.”

UW continues to conduct weekly random-sample testing of 3% of the on-campus population. The test positivity rate of 1.47% last week was down from 2.89% the week before.

The university was the first educational system in the state to require masks for the fall semester. Local school districts, such as Laramie, Albany and Teton counties, across Wyoming have begun implementing mandates as COVID cases continue to rise.

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UW President: University’s Endowment Worth Almost $800M

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The University of Wyoming’s endowment is worth almost $800 million, an extraordinary amount for a college its size, President Ed Seidel said earlier this week.

Seidel, speaking during his “State of the University” speech on Wednesday, said the endowment, or value of the university’s investments based on donated money and financial assets, totaled $794.7 million.

The university saw almost $50 million in private donations last year alone, Seidel said.

In a wide-ranging address that also touched on coronavirus and the budget cuts faced by the university, Seidel said the university reduced its spending by more than $13 million per year by eliminating 75 positions and multiple programs at the school.

The changes will allow the university to better support its students and generate new revenue streams, Seidel said.

Programs not discontinued or reorganized will still see their budgets cut by 3%, he said.

He added the university will save another $18 million over the next 20 years by refinancing its outstanding debt.

“There are lots of things behind the scenes that are helping us save as much funding as we can,” Seidel said.

The long-term spending reductions are in addition to $42.3 million in cuts made when Gov. Mark Gordon ordered state spending cuts in the fact of dramatic downturns in the state’s mineral income.

Turning to coronavirus, Seidel said vaccination rates have steadily increased on campus, with around two-thirds of the student population having self-reported that they are vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We’ve got some more work to do there, but we’ve done relatively well,” he said.

As of Thursday, there were a number of active COVID cases among the UW population: eight employees, 14 on-campus students and 43 off-campus students, according to the university’s COVID dashboard.

The university was the first educational facility that implemented a mask mandate, with students being required to wear masks while on campus until mid-September.

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Bill Sniffin: UW Game Day ‘Back To Normal’ – It Is Just So Much Fun For The Cowboy State

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By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily

And by the way, the Pokes won last Saturday! But there was so much more going on besides a football game.

A real old-fashioned football weekend at Laramie had not occurred for over two years. But this weekend was just so much fun – the tail-gating, the banquets, the pomp, the huge crowds, and it even culminated with a nail-biter of a football game victory. 

I was there for most of it.  This column and these photos tell some of the stories that were occurring all over Laramie and Cheyenne during this festive weekend.

Fall weather in the mid-70s and just a slight breeze contributed to about as good an environment as in all of UW history.

We talked with tailgaters from Cheyenne, Yoder, Lander, Wheatland, and Laramie.  As you walked around the huge War Memorial Stadium, the smells of burgers, pizza, barbecue, burrito’s, and just about every other tasty item were in the air. My favorite was a breakfast burrito from the folks in Wheatland.

The bright gold color favored by Coach Craig Bohl was all over the place as folks dressed up in their golden best.  And yet, at the game, the fans sat in an organized manner so the crowd was striped, with sections alternately gold and brown.

Our weekend started Friday night with a gala event at the Governor’s Residence in Cheyenne where First Lady Jennie Gordon saluted individuals and organizations that had taken her Wyoming Hunger Initiative and made it a huge success.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield has become a major sponsor on the project.  When BC/BS also became the primary sponsor the UW’s game Saturday, it only made sense to incorporate the “Tackle Hunger” campaign into their game sponsorship, too.

A big crew of volunteers wearing “Tackle Hunger” tee shirts worked hard raising awareness of hunger issues in Wyoming, especially among young people.

The Cheyenne event Friday night was outside under a nice tent and included a spectacular meal.  And then the sky opened up and it rained like crazy for about 20 minutes.  The tent held up but those of us sitting on the edge got pretty soaked.  Gov. Mark Gordon was in a good mood and announced:  “Here in Wyoming, we never, never complain about the rain!”

We sat with Chuck and Katie Brown of Wheatland, Susan and Doug Samuelson of Cheyenne, and Kim and Mary Kay Love of Sheridan.

Author CJ Box was there and said the new TV series called Joe Pickett about his successful books is progressing nicely.  More on that later.  Very exciting news.

Some other folks there included Katie Legerski, Jonathan Downing, Diane and Jeff Gore and a slew of people from all around the state. I apologize for forgetting all their names. It was a who’s -who of generous Wyoming folks.

Later that evening, we attended the induction ceremony at UW of some fantastic former Cowboy athletes. They were also recognized during halftime of the game.  My personal favorite was “The Greybull Rifle,” Tom Wilkinson, who went on to fame in the Canadian Professional Football League.

Special note: the UW band was outstanding. They even performed a song from the rock group Queen.  Not an easy play for a marching band, I would assume.

There was a huge amount of tailgating events being held inside the football team’s practice facility. 

As for Covid, we saw probably 10 people masked up during the whole time outside.  Yet there was a nurse named Terri Garner roaming around with a mask on and holding a sign asking people to get vaccinated. She predicted this game would be a super spreader event for the state.

That truly was the only discouraging word I heard during the entire weekend.

It was a huge crowd, probably over 27,000.  Montana State brought a large group of fans, but the overwhelming fan base was pro-Cowboy “gold or brown.”  And yes, with less than one minute remaining, the Cowboys snatched Victory from the Jaws of Defeat, with a 19-16 victory.

We spent the second half in the Wildcatter Suites.  What a nice facility. Ran into Dave Crum of Casper, Judy and Don Legerski of Lander, and my old pal Gus Fleischli of Cheyenne.  Gus just turned 95 and is a World War II vet.

Keener Fry was all over the place.  He was truly everywhere from their tailgater stand, to the Hall of Fame banquet, to leading the folks at the Wildcatter Suites in cheering on the Pokes in the final minutes. He is in charge of UW Alumni Association.  

It is easy to love being in SE Wyoming on a game day in September. Life just does not get any better than this. It was a wonderful time full of fantastic Cowboy fans.

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