Jean Garrison

Jean Garrison

Guest columnist

The University of Wyoming opened its doors in 1886 as Wyoming’s land-grant institution, created to be a partner with communities in our state. From partnerships with our community colleges, articulating courses to build toward seamless student transfer, to our partnership with the Wyoming Business Council to aid entrepreneurs and Wyoming business owners, we are committed to continue to serve the state across these troubling times.

Many of our partnerships may seem invisible — for example, 4-H programs across the state represent a decades-long partnership with our counties for youth development programming. And yet, our colleges, schools and our administrative units serve as important resources linking UW to our people across the state.

UW has gone virtual with many of its services since the coronavirus hit us. We reach every corner of the state with webinars addressing the business environment during the coronavirus pandemic from College of Business experts and services offered by the network of business incubators that advise and support high-growth startups in the early stages of business development.

The College of Health Sciences provided immediate expertise and assistance to the state Department of Health and Wyoming clinics, while the College of Engineering and Applied Science produced medical-grade masks for frontline health workers.

This summer, UW went online offering affordable courses from resume building to the arts. The College of Education is serving our K-12 educators by sponsoring online curriculum and teaching workshops across the summer, with new resources available to all through the school year.

UW professors also continue to serve important advisory roles with Gov. Mark Gordon and state agencies, bringing their expertise to bear on pressing policy issues.

These are just a few of the multitude of examples of how UW as “your university” is stepping up to the plate. We don’t know if we are hitting a home run, but if effort scores points, then we are batting a thousand.

As articulated by UW’s Strategic Plan, Breaking Through: 2017-2022, as an institution we emphasize “service and outreach” that extend UW’s talent and capacity “to serve people in our communities, our state, the nation and the world.” The UW Strategic Plan for Community Engagement emphasizes our commitment to communities providing a breadth of outreach activities, as well as building depth in our community engagement partnerships.

Today, every college, school and division of UW participates in numerous activities in the state, with significant impacts on communities in each of Wyoming’s 23 counties and on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

President Ed Seidel offers tremendous expertise and a new energy to “roll up our sleeves” to develop a process that will prioritize the key components necessary, even through tough times, so that UW can continue to fulfill its land-grant education, research and service mission at the highest level possible. Now starting my 21st year as a faculty member at UW, having seen many ups and downs, I and my colleagues join President Seidel in our commitment to serve our students and the communities of Wyoming.

Jean Garrison is a professor at UW and has led UW’s community engagement initiative for the last three years. She currently serves as director of the Office of Engagement and Outreach. She can be reached at 307-766-6119 or garrison@uwyo.edu.

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