Rock Springs resident Laura Schmid-Pizzato, who was appointed to the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees on Tuesday, told the Laramie Boomerang she’s largely interested in increasing access to UW education for citizens throughout the state.
A part-time lecturer at Western Wyoming Community College, Schmid-Pizzato said she thinks the university should be able to increase course offering to residents around Wyoming who aren’t able to relocate to Laramie.
“I want to make sure they have the opportunity for higher education,” she said. “I taught online classes and there’s lots of different ways to provide the education.”
Schmid-Pizzato fills a vacancy left by former board president John MacPherson, who resigned in July.
Schmid-Pizzato earned a bachelor’s of arts degree in Spanish from UW and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Utah. She is a licensed clinical social worker and is currently the recovery services manager for Southwest Counseling Service in Rock Springs.
She received a phone call a few weeks ago from Gov. Matt Mead’s policy director, Mary Kay Hill, who told her she was a candidate for UW’s governing board.
Schmid-Pizzato said she was surprised when Hill expressed interest in her. Considering how active she’s been in the statewide discussions concerning substance abuse and mental health, she initially assumed Hill was calling in regard to that work.
“I actually thought when they were calling, they were wanting me to be on the opioid task force,” she said.
She then went to Cheyenne for a face-to-face interview with Mead and Hill last week before she was selected.
After graduating from the university, Schmid-Pizzato has remained an active alumna. She and her husband joined the Alumni Association “fairly young,” she said. They still regularly attend athletic events and other events the university hosts.
“We always saw the benefit of the university,” she said. “It’s not just for students to go and get higher education.
“It’s really a place for the entire state to get benefits from.”
She is also the President of the Wyoming Congressional Award Council and maintains UW connections through Cowboy Joe Club and as professional mentor for UW students. Certain actions by the Board of Trustees in recently years, like a consolidation of reserve accounts and an attempt to give the board greater power to fire faculty, have drawn significant scrutiny in UW community. Although she said she’s stayed up-to-date with that high level decision-making, Schmid-Pizzato said it would be inappropriate for her to comment on decisions the board made in recent years — especially since she’s not privy to all the information they might have had.
She said she’s enthusiastic about the major projects the university is working on, like the Tier 1 Engineering Initiative and the Science Initiative building that are being constructed.
Schmid-Pizzato and her husband are the parents of three children, including one who attends UW in Laramie.