University of Wyoming President Robert Sternberg undoubtedly is in a honeymoon period as he enjoys his first couple of months at the helm of the state’s only four-year public university.

Already, though, we believe Sternberg’s vision and mission prove why he is the right person for the right job at the right time.

His vision isn’t just about protecting higher education, or building the UW empire into an elite research university — it’s about getting to the true mission of a land-grant institution and making it the best of its kind.

To that we say, “Amen.”

Of course, Wyoming has enjoyed the successful tenure of several past presidents, each of whom has contributed to making the university a better place.

But Sternberg’s vision, which is educating ethical, well-prepared leaders who are ready for Wyoming’s workforce has a special ring to it because of the relation state has with the Laramie campus.

We in Wyoming take our ethics seriously. That’s not to say that places like, say, South Carolina or Arizona don’t. But, we have the Cowboy Code and Code of the West. Those codes mean something to us, and it’s a way of treating our neighbors and running our business. To hear that part of the university’s mission is to raise the next generation of leaders for the state of Wyoming is nothing short of inspiring.

As pretty as the words are, though, there is something behind them. It’s not going to be enough that Wyoming’s next generation is going to have technical know-how. The next generation of successful leaders must also understand the right way to do business. And, they must understand that there are no easy analogs for Wyoming. That means Sternberg naturally sees part of the university’s mission to better prepare leaders for energy and technology industries which support so much of our state. On the other hand, we hope the University of Wyoming continues to take a leadership position as it looks for new ways the state could expand its economic base. As we’ve said before, for continued prosperity, Wyoming must make economic diversification a priority, and we believe the resources and the raw intellectual power the University of Wyoming provides would be a great recipe for future financial success.

We also appreciate Sternberg’s passion and dedication to making sure the University of Wyoming is accessible. He realizes higher education is within reach for almost every Wyoming student, especially through the generous Hathaway scholarship program. It’s not enough just to have the program. Instead, we have to be concerned about students taking advantage of it, and also developing the kind of leaders and workers the state will need instead of having the best and the brightest flee the state in a case of brain drain as soon as they get their diplomas.

We hope the university can provide leadership and ask: Are we getting tangible results from the Hathaway? In other words, do students finish the programs and are there jobs for them in Wyoming when they graduate?

We hope the University of Wyoming continues to reach out to Wyoming’s schools as it trains the next generation of teachers, and also gives guidance to the state as it wrestles with how to get more high school students to graduate.

Wyoming is also unique in that it has many very strong two-year community colleges which either feed into the Laramie campus or have satellite programs. We hope to see the relationship between the campuses and the university improve. We believe that making transfers from the two-year to the four-year programs seamless is a great step. There also seem to be great opportunities for the institutions to grow closer, which would benefit the entire state.

We continue to be encouraged by Sternberg’s dedication to a strong athletics program and support the notion that athletics is another way the university can foster ethics, teamwork and leadership. Heaven knows the university’s athletics programs have suffered their fair share of scandal and embarrassment. We believe there is tremendous potential and opportunity in the UW athletic programs, and a higher standard in both winning and sportsmanship would only increase the university’s stature.

Sternberg’s vision should make it easy for the rest of the state to ride for the University of Wyoming’s brand.

(1) comment


I laud the new president's speech but it overlooks the elephant in the room: the faculty and staff brain drain/bleedout that has been happening at the University of Wyoming. The truth behind the talk is that after four years with no raises, many of our best professors have left. It is increasingly difficult to attract good professors to come to Laramie. I am not at all certain how the University of Wyoming is going to achieve a "leadership position" among land grant institutions given what it pays its faculty and staff. And, from the perspective of a staff person on campus, it is extremely difficult to be passionate and dedicated and motivated to excel when year after year the state sends the message that our work isn't worth rewarding. The University of Wyoming as the nation's leading land grant university? Not with these salaries...

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