One more new face will be coming to Wyoming along with Laurie Nichols and a new provost, but instead of being on the Laramie campus, he’ll be in Casper.
Jeff Edgens will be University of Wyoming-Casper’s new director beginning May 31, where he will put his several years’ experience in outreach schools to work.
“I was the founding director of the East Georgia State–Augusta campus,” he said. “We opened there with 98 students, and when I left a year-and-a-half ago, we had 350. In 15 months, I had moved it more than 250 students.”
Edgens spent the last year as associate vice president of academic affairs at Thomas University, a private school in Georgia.
“There was nothing here to push me out of TU as much as the lure there was for UW and UW-Casper,” he said.
After leaving East Georgia State, he applied to both UW and Thomas University.
“I had already looked at UW-Casper earlier, and that was in January of last year, but I had already accepted the position (at Thomas College),” he said. “I said, ‘Well, thanks, but no thanks,’ and removed myself.”
UW kept his application on file as the director search progressed. Edgens stayed in the loop, leading to an interview in December.
“I’ve been to a couple branch campuses in my time, and the thing that really stands out for UW-Casper is, it’s a Cadillac program,” he said. “The facilities that are there, the numbers of dedicated and highly-qualified faculty and staff there, the programs there are first-rate. From what I’ve seen, it’s a stellar program.”
He’ll take some of the skills he learned from building up an outreach school and put them to use in Casper.
“I don’t know exactly what it has been doing, but I enjoy going out to the community and doing outreach and championing the university at every instance,” he said. “I think looking at how the programs are delivered, marketed, are all things to be looked at. I will work with Casper College to make sure there are good, strong transfers to UW-Casper. I’ll also work to understand any new programs that need to be developed. There isn’t one specific thing. But my main interest is outreach.”
Edgens will be a perfect fit for Casper, Susan Frye, dean of the UW Outreach School, says in a news release.
“We are delighted to have someone of Dr. Edgens’ background and aptitude agree to fill this crucial role in continuing to advance UW’s long-standing and growing presence in Casper,” she states. “His experience in building and leading outreach campuses, combined with his understanding of our land-grant mission, results in what we expect will be an ideal fit for UW-Casper.”
Born and raised in the South, Edgens’ only trip to Wyoming was more than a decade ago on a fishing trip.
“I love to trout fish,” he said. “There are very few places outside of Wyoming that would provide that opportunity. That alone will keep me around.”
In addition to his experience in outreach schools, he knows what it’s like being in a difficult position monetarily.
“Early in the recession, we had budget issues (at Morehead State University), so I am familiar with those kinds of situations,” he said. “I also understand what it means to be a faculty member without salary increases. At Georgia, we didn’t have a pay raise for 10 years.”
Still, Edgens said he’s excited to move to Casper this spring and get started.
“I think the biggest thing is, in the short-term basis, really getting to understand and learn the Wyoming system — learn the region, learn the people — and fit in there,” he said.