Roughly a decade ago, the University of Wyoming established a study-abroad scholarship endowment, that remains the largest among the nation’s land-grant universities.
The endowment — which has since benefitted 2,115 students — was made possible by a $3.2 million gift from former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, who is an author and scholar in her own right.
Doubled by state matching funds, the $6.4 million sum established the Richard D. and Lynne V. Cheney Study Abroad Scholarship Endowment and provided for the creation of the Cheney International Center on UW’s main campus.
An event Friday honoring the couple’s generosity to the university is open to the public, said Toby Marlatt, UW Foundation vice president for marketing and communications.
“They’re here in town to mark that special occasion of the opening of the Cheney Center and the beginning of this endowment which has contributed to a meaningful global exposure and research opportunities for study-abroad students here at the University of Wyoming,” Marlatt said.
The event, titled “From Wyoming to the Vice Presidency of the United States: A Family Dialogue”, will feature both Cheneys and focus on the couple’s various achievements and experiences.
“The vice president and Lynne will speak with each other, ask each other questions about their history in Wyoming, growing up in Wyoming, their remarkable level of public service and their careers in public service and in public life, during some of the most extraordinary moments in our country’s history,” Marlatt said.
A 2015 public presentation hosted at UW by the Cheneys — promoting Lynne Cheney’s book “James Madison: A Life Reconsidered” — drew a small crowd of protesters calling themselves Wyoming Citizens Against Torture. The group objected to the vice president’s support of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.
Foundation President and CEO Ben Blalock said the presence of protestors does not factor into planning the event and that UW is taking the same precautions it takes for any high-profile visitor to campus.
“The usual steps are taken just so that all the appropriate folks on campus are notified,” Blalock said. “But to say we’ve done any special planning, that’s not accurate.”
The endowment provides for four scholarships, each named for the Cheneys: study-abroad grants, fellowships, semester support scholarships and international awards, which help student groups going abroad for academic reasons.
The Cheney International Center houses the Global Engagement Office, which encompasses International Students and Scholars and Education Abroad programs, as well as the English Language Center.
The dialogue runs from 2:30-3:30 p.m. Friday in the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center. The event is free to the public. Call the UW Global Engagement Office at 766-3677 for more information.