University of Wyoming President Robert Sternberg talked with the Casper Star-Tribune editorial board on Monday after spending a week very much in the news and on the minds of Wyoming people.

In a frank conversation about his first months at the helm of the university, he revealed plans and actions that shed new light on his time in the job. He also admitted he didn’t expect the strong reactions his changes at the university have produced.

Sternberg felt ambushed when he arrived at a meeting with students and the freshly resigned dean of the College of Law. He said he has been meeting with different colleges and groups of the university, and the law school appearance was arranged as a town hall meeting well before Stephen Easton resigned after announcement of a task force to review the college.

“I didn’t agree to a quasi-judicial meeting,” Sternberg said. And when the dean insisted on what he called a “trial-like format” to decide if the new president had treated the law school ethically, Sternberg considered it inappropriate.

So do we.

We think it was Easton who lost credibility. The dean led an attack that wasn’t seeking answers. It amounted to exactly what he accused Sternberg of doing to the law school — talking instead of listening.

Sternberg agreed to a future meeting with people from the law school, but he also said he wasn’t interested in participating in “a TV reality show.”

Division I sports

As long as Sternberg is UW president, the Cowboys will be an NCAA Division I athletic program. It was a simple and direct promise from the president, who believes that UW sports are important in a state where people drive for hours to see the teams play.

He’s not content with the fall football season, saying that “It’s demoralizing to lose by several touchdowns.”

Teams need “a fierce will to win,” Sternberg said; he doesn’t think that more money alone will make the difference. But he does want the state to pay many sports staff members better. And he wants the university to do a better job of recruiting, including using the state plane when necessary and looking harder within Wyoming.

UW fans should welcome Sternberg’s firm commitment to finding ways to improve the program that is a unifying asset for Wyoming people.

Too much, too fast?

Sternberg argued that he’s gotten a bum rap for firing too many people too fast. He pointed to the fact that he has asked for two resignations: Provost Myron Allen and Dean of Education Kay Persichitte. Others resigned in protest, including Easton and two associate provosts.

He questioned why higher education officials would not want to be evaluated. “Accountability is important,” he said. “We need a culture that welcomes that.”

Instead, some at UW have had what Sternberg described as “an antibody” reaction — attacking a new element in the body. It’s easy to see why he was such a surprise to a campus accustomed to long-term previous administration.

People call it stable leadership, and it was. But Sternberg is seeking ways to improve the university across the board, which is being felt as instability.

We heartily support the belief that accountability is important and we want to see an improved university.

The next time Sternberg comes to a student meeting, it’s our hope that they hear what he is saying and that he is able to bring them into his vision. Looking for areas that can be better is a positive move and Sternberg says it is why he was hired.

He was blunt about what the Board of Trustees expects from him, insisting “I am doing exactly what they hired me to do.”

(15) comments

MountainMan
MountainMan

President Sternberg is like a Chinook wind at UW, He is sure bringing a fresh breeze to our University that was starting to smell a little stale. Education is all about Excellence and serving Wonderful Wyoming.

Uinta
Uinta

If Sternberg is doing what the Board of Trustees expected him to do, then it's time to replace the Board of Trustees.

Jackson
Jackson

Point- counterpoint: Uinta has his view. I subscribe to the view that greatness comes from challenging from within. I think the Board and Sternberg are doing just that, and I applaud the effort to make UW something more than Grade 13+. Only time will tell if we/they are on the right track, but they deserve the encouragement and support of like minded folks. And I agree that sometimes "good is good enough", but not when it comes to UW!

checkthefacts
checkthefacts

I agree that Sternberg and the Trustees must go. If the "fresh breeze" sought by certain individuals in the State of Wyoming is secrecy, deceit, lack of communication, distrust, lack of vision, and the unnecessary expenditure of tuition monies on search firms/housing remodeling/etc., then these individuals should start looking for another state.

Also, it is unfortunate that the author of this article apparently bought into Sternberg's attempt to evade valid questions regarding his treatment of individuals, departments, and colleges who provide valuable services to students and the State of Wyoming. I watched the video of the town hall meeting. The Dean of the College of Law stood up to contest one of several inaccurate statements made by Sternberg. He was seeking a discussion, and Sternberg refused. What is Sternberg hiding? His treatment of the College of Engineering, College of Education, Provost's Office, College of Law, and others is deplorable. He has come to the University of Wyoming believing that he can trample on anyone, utilize university resources for personal use, and change anything without discussion or CHECKING THE FACTS. Sternberg beats the drum of accountability. No one at the University is running from accountability except for Sternberg himself.

pappy
pappy

I think the verdict is still out on Sternberg. It is refreshing that he honest enough to say he is doing what he was hired to do. That means that what he has done is coming from the Board of Trustees and if people are dissatisfied then that's were they should address issue. The UW board has mostly flown under the radar but now the public is watching and they will be held accountable for their actions.

I would also say that when X-Dean Eaton may have had a very valid point about the lack of communication he last all credibility by the way he handled it. It wasn't his meeting and he doesn't get to set the rules. He should be fired for his lack of professionalism bu that won't happen because of the political fallout.

I have no problem with a fair evaluation of every college at the University. It should be exactly that an evaluation of every college and not just those colleges that a few that some board members are whining about. The UW has long been about research, in many colleges, and not about teaching. Publish or Perish is still very much alive and well and UW.

AS to football we always hear that we need to look in state. We do have some Division 1 athletes but and we should make an effort to recruit them. The truth is we don't have the population or the competition level to produce division 1 athletes. There are more athletes and competition in Denver's top level schools than in all of WY schools put together. If we want to recruit more WY athletes then drop down and play at a lower NCAA level.

goppoke
goppoke

Although the 20 somethings (the students) that have not paid any taxes to support UW should have input, they do not run the University. If the Governor and the Legislature want the University to step up its game, they will allocate the resources necessary to do so. If not, we can count on continued mediocrity. I applaud the approach.

Kool Kat
Kool Kat

Interesting perspective gopoke, never the less, the students do pay tuition among other expenses to attend the UW. Buuut, the students in their letter hadn't {apparently} addressed the real issue which is, resources from tax paid State of Wyomign coffers.
This is the very same money that help keep tuition fees lower than most Universities surround Wyoming as a region. What we have are liberal/social minded powers-to-be that demand.
And unfortunately, the State of Wyoming, Trustees and UW [past] Leadership had never bothered to confront such attitudes. Till now.
On the other hand, UW law students shouldn't be surprised, but rather, adapting their future professions to a constant change that is demanding of all. The University of Wyoming has not been willing to adapt, while its leaders saw themselves the ladder day pharisees.
It is apparent that this school has "so-cancered-out" that, this attitude has had a lasting effect in athletic programs. While the powers-to-be could care less about UW athletics, their reign is now coming to an abrupt end.
Perhaps changing the trend that Wyoming Athletic Programs can actually become a predominant role for the school and large attraction for future students.

pappy
pappy

Kool Kat lower tuition fees at UW has nothing to do with "liberal/social minded powers. It is required by the WY constitution. Maybe you should try using fact for a change.

Wilderness
Wilderness

The students likely are paying significantly more to support UW operations than you, as they should. They pay tuition and fees directly, and pay the same sales and use taxes that you pay, into the Wyoming general fund that supports among other things UW operations.

I don't know what other "taxes" you and others consistently refer to when it comes to the general fund or operations at UW. Your property taxes do not go there. You pay no state income tax. And the portion of your federal income tax that reverts to UW does not cover operations, capital construction, or other most other expenditures. In fact, energy pays a large portion of the general fund revenues and thus support of UW in the form of mineral severance taxes, federal mineral royalties and other mechanisms. Unless your name is Shell, Encana, Chesapeake, Arch Coal, etc. then I don't believe you have march to carp about.

UW Student
UW Student

If the trustees hired Sternberg to come in and get rid of everyone, then he is doing a great job. Except for the fact that he doesn't know how to instigate change in a professional manner. When you have the College of Education (the nicest people in the whole world) in an uproar, then you've got a seriously flawed management style.

Sternberg says here that he is doing exactly what the trustees want him to do. Well, maybe it's time the trustees tell the rest of us what their plan is, because right now it just looks like chaos.

Pokes
Pokes

Easton apparently made a fool of himself at the supposed town hall meeting with law students. What an embarrassing sight that must have been. I applaud Dr. Sternberg and his efforts to date. I find it laughable that officials at UW resist being evaluated. People in private business are evaluated regularly. Are things a little too cushy at UW for some?

Remove the deadweight, Robert. A lot of us are behind you 100%.

jackel
jackel

Amazing the reaction to this story and editorial opinion. So the board of trustees hired him to make the changes needed to move Wyoming forward. Then when the changes are started it ruffles the feathers of status quote of the present administator and deans, who've sat upon the chairs of comfort.
Yet when the people in this discussion say the State legislators and board are hired to do just that process, really? Well we hired a School Superintendent and it ruffled the chairs of comfort, and changed the seats in the Legislator, to the tune of well over this event at UW.
The UW board is no different than the education committee and the appropeiations Senator in Laramie. I do give that these changes are for the most part to eliminate stagenation, but so was the vote of the people for Mrs. Hill.
Just because you have a PHD, or degree intergity is at all levels. Therefore as stated in this article, recruiting should be more within Wyoming for sports. When was the last president of Universty Chosen from within, I'd rather have a division 2 president also who knows the rural life of Wyoming.
Change is fear of the unknown, so I hope the explaining will have also a legislative investigation to see if this president should be impeached, Ha.

richstacy
richstacy

It seems to me that the least accountable person in this entire mess is the "new guy" who hasn't been around long enough to evaluate anyone -- Sternberg himself. Meanwhile, Dean Steve Easton has done wonders with the UW Law School and deserves all the credit in the world for it. If the UW Board of trustees wants to run off excellent professors and administrators like Steve Easton, (which I doubt) perhaps someone should "evaluate" them.

Pops
Pops

The board of trustees is operating under the table.

Kool Kat
Kool Kat

University of Wyoming President Robert Sternberg, you did your job, the trustees didn't do theirs. Although many University of Wyoming Football and Basketball fans will miss you, you did the correct thin, to resign to this ongoing "Kangaroo style" management.
University of Wyoming President Robert Sternberg, thank you for at least exposing the greatest problem at the University of Wyoming, "failed leadership". The University of Wyoming will always remain a place with lack of growth and "public assistance dependent" with deans and professors like, Easton.

University of Wyoming, will most likely have a very difficult time recruiting the "best qualified" President after this debacle the Trustees allowed for. Perhaps its time the Wyoming Legislature to ask the University of Wyoming Trustees their vision of Wyoming's only four year institution?
It wouldn't surprise me if their response was, "keep going like we have" such as public funding and stunted growth, with a lack Athletic support. Cause if they say any different? Then they would speak from two sides of their mouths, by their own actions of late, alone.

Thank you, University of Wyoming President Robert Sternberg for your 137 days at the helm.

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