The University of Wyoming now has a dean and executive director leading the two semi-independent schools on campus.
The Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources and the School of Energy Resources are different than other colleges or departments, Haub School Dean Ingrid Burke explained.
“Universities nationwide and internationally are developing different kinds of organizational structures to do interdisciplinary work — that is, work that crosses the normal boundaries of colleges and departments,” she said. “We’re training students in different ways. We’re pulling together faculty from across the university. We’re addressing problems that require multiple disciplines from across the university.”
Burke has been the director of the school for eight years before UW President Laurie Nichols and the UW Board of Trustees gave her the title of dean during a July meeting.
“We’ve got a lot of students who major in environment and natural resources, and we need to have presence on the dean’s council and be represented in terms of the leadership structure of the institution,” Burke said. “This is totally different than anything that has to do with the budget cut,” she said. “This is allowing the university to recognize the relatively recent growth over the last decade and the entities being in the leadership role in the institution just as well as the other colleges.”
Mark Northam’s title was changed from director to executive director of the School of Energy Resources. Neither Burke nor Northam will receive a pay raise.
“It’s a catch-all title,” Northam said. “The director of a small program that supports a learning center is very different than the director of a program that invests $10 million in the university per year.”
One of the largest effects the change can have is working with industry partners — something Northam does quite often.
“When I go out for fundraising and developing partnerships, I’m typically sitting in a board room — sometimes with CEOs and most often with executive vice presidents — and the executive director title is very well understood in private sector circles,” he said. “It was mainly done to convey, both internally and externally, the sense of what this job really is.”
While the title is about equal to a dean, it conveys a very different mission.
“The deans primarily have an academic mission and I have primarily an outward-looking mission,” he said. “I do have an academic program, but it’s not as extensive as a college would have, and I do have a far more active program that involves the private sector and the legislative sector.”
In contrast, the Haub School currently has 260 students enrolled in its various undergraduate and graduate programs.
“We have quite a focus on our academic programs,” she said. “There are many schools of environment and natural resources, and their leaders are deans.”
Trustee Michelle Sullivan, board liaison to the Haub School, said the new dean title is appropriate.
“Given a school of such national prominence, the case was made that the title of dean,” she said. “It’s more of an appropriate title.”
Both schools’ financial outlooks are good.
“We, in the Haub School, get 20 percent of our budget through the block grant,” she said. “Most of our money comes from private gifts, and we’re going to continue to build more and more relationships throughout the university and the state.”
The School of Energy Resources is also poised well for the future, Northam said.
“From my point of view of the excitement of what we’re working on, it’s extremely positive,” he said. “We’re also finding there’s significant available of private sector funding to do the work that we need to do to keep fossil energy as a funding stream in the State of Wyoming.”