Laurie Nichols

University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols discussed progress on meeting the goals of the university’s five-year strategic plan at a Tuesday meeting with faculty and staff.

In her third State of the University address delivered Tuesday, University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols gave the “very first report card” on the progress made after the first year of the school’s five-year strategic plan, which was adopted in July 2017 by the Board of Trustees.

Nichols’ speech was given during a joint meeting of Faculty Senate and Staff Senate before Tuesday’s convocation for new students.

Nichols vowed to give a report on the strategic plan’s progress each year, and said a printed report of the first year’s progress would be published in coming weeks.

The strategic plan includes four overarching goals, with 30 measurable benchmarks UW can use to gauge its progress toward those goals.

Goal 1: Driving excellence

In its work toward raising its academic eminence, UW actually regressed in the first year on several of the six benchmarks UW’s strategic plan sets out.

By 2022, the university aims to be receiving $115 million in external research funding each year.

In 2016, the university received $95.3 million, a number which dropped to $80.7 million in 2017.

The university also hopes to be receiving at least five intellectual property licenses that bear income per year, but received no new licenses in 2017.

Over the course of the strategic plan, the university aims to increase the number of international students from 791 to 1,050.

The number of international students has now made a small drop to 785, and Nichols said that number could slide further during the strategic plan’s second year “given the policies at a federal level.”

By 2022, the university hopes to have 650 students and faculty studying abroad each year. After increasing the number to 508 from 425 after the first year, UW is already 37 percent toward that five-year goal.

Goal 2: Inspiring students

During the first year, Nichols said the school made the most progress on its goal of “inspiring students,” which calls for enrollment increases and improvement in graduation rates.

UW made modest gains in both overall enrollment and enrollment of transfer students.

By 2022, the school aims to increase the retention rate for full-time undergraduates students to 80 percent from 76 percent. After the first year, UW is already halfway toward that goal.

“Don’t take that lightly,” Nichols said. “It’s hard to move retention 1 percent, and we were able to make it 2.”

Modest improvement to graduation rates were also made in the first year, though the number of students graduating with a credential from the Honors College made a slight drop after the first year.

As part of the goal to “inspire students,” UW hopes to have 2-3 new dormitories being constructed, if not completed, by 2022.

A legislative task force has been working on a housing plan this summer, with an initial bill draft being published last week proposing at least $200 million in new dorms.

“I was a little discouraged by this until our last meeting, and now I’m encouraged,” Nichols said. “I’ll work hard to make sure they don’t spell UWYO.”

House Speaker Steve Harshman, R-Casper, chairs the task force and proposed building dorms along 15th Street designed in the form of letters legible from the sky.

The drafted floor plans were panned by university officials and Harshman’s fellow legislators.

Goal 3: Impacting communities

Part of the university’s strategic plan calls for UW to play a greater role in Wyoming communities through outreach programs and other collaboration.

The strategic plan includes just two measurable benchmarks to gauge progress on those goals: Increasing attendance at UW sporting events and receiving a Classification of Community Engagement from the Carnegie Foundation. In the Carnegie Foundation’s latest round of recognition, 240 institutions across the U.S. received the Classification of Community Engagement.

Nichols said UW made “very good progress” on the community engagement process and aims to apply for the Carnegie Foundation’s next round of certification, which starts in 2024.

UW is set to open the Office of Engagement and Outreach in January, which Nichols said should help “lead to a designation at this university that I think we deserve.”

Over the course of five years, the strategic plan calls from attendance at intercollegiate athletic events to be increased from 275,372 to 310,000. During the 2017-2018 academic year, attendance already topped 300,000.

Goal 4: A High-Performing University

The strategic plan’s fourth goal includes several disparate objectives, like bettering workplace conditions and “enhancing financial resources.”

The university increased its endowment by $50 million during the strategic plan’s first year and hopes to increase the endowment by another $150 million during the next four years.

The strategic plan also calls for total university revenue to be increased by $50 million during the course of the strategic plan. Revenue was increased by $15 million in the plan’s first year, though Nichols acknowledged much of the increase can be credited to funding for the Science Initiative.

In accordance with the strategic plan’s mandate to update all university regulations, the Board of Trustees modified 23 regulations in the past year and has added three more.

Faculty Senate President Donal O’Toole said the revamp of UW regulations would occupy considerable time for his organization this year.

“Many are not contentious, but some are and it’s important that we get them right,” he said.

Goal 4 calls for strong job satisfaction among employees, and to that end, Nichols praised the market-based and merit-based salary increases given this month that were based on a 3 percent pool.

Nichols said those increases were possible because of a new salary policy that she said will allow UW to “more consistently award salary increases now because we’re putting together a strong process.”

O’Toole praised Nichols for securing the salary increases.

“I want to thank the president very much,” he said. “That was a promise she made and a promise she kept.”

(7) comments

WYO1

Well, I don't know...I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, a merit-based raise of 1.2% is ok, but it sure feels like a slap in the face...do good work, good performance review, bust your butt for the last 3 years, and 1.2 % is your reward. That's the problem, every one I spoke with thought they would get a 3% raise, but not with the 60/40 market-merit split...so, 40% X 3% is only 1.2%....the math is the math....too bad for a lot of people, but there are those who were well below the scale for their grade (which UW implemented years back) that have now been the recipients of the extra...so there are some that received a benefit from this....I suppose it's good, but it sure feels like a slap in the face...........

waitasec

1.2% is not a raise. A raise would mean a reclassification of your position. What you received is a Cost of Living Increase (COLI) and nothing more. What you will now see is your insurance premiums going up. "Since you make more, you have more we can take from you." Busting one's butt is a matter of opinion. What may be considered hard work by you is only "doing your job" by the higher-ups.

WYO1

Not to nit-pick, but my salary information email states "Merit Increase", it does not say anything about a COLI, it is strictly merit-based, only. However, my point was everyone was talking about the "raises" i.e. what you get paid and UW could have presented it a bit better rather talk about salary pool and the like. Interesting that you think any increase that I may have received over the past 15 years would be a COLI, and my job has been the same during that time period, so I don't know where you are coming from on that. I'm also in an exempt position so I do not get overtime, nor compensatory time. Yes, in December, expect insurance premiums to eat up the rest of the "raise". Anyway, I think we agree that a lot of people are disappointed and I'll leave it at that.

waitasec

They're going to call it whatever they want to make you feel better so you don't realize you're being played and look for other positions. Social security benefits increased this year more than the "merit raise", and that's a cost of living adjustment. If you asked, you'll find that everyone received about the same "merit" raise. They can't give just one person a merit raise without raising a stink. "Hey, I've worked harder than he/she did. Where's my merit raise?".

Trumped

Wonder what kind of raise Lauri Nichols received? Or the VP of Research and Economic Development? Do they deserve merit raises?

Trumped

Research $$$ way down. Poor licensing. Not much to brag about. This sounds like mediocrity is the future. Kind of sad. IMHO, no interest in people of excellence. Good faculty have left, never to return.

bobvila

x

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.