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Guest Opinions

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Sees Strength in the Future

Written by Frank Galey

By Frank Galey, UW College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dean


I am happy, as dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, to have been invited to write this column for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup’s annual University of Wyoming (UW) edition.

The college reached a record enrollment of 1,083 students last fall. This mirrors the institutional growth in Wyoming’s only four-year university. Last year’s total enrollment was 13,551 students. Just a short time ago – in 2007 – student numbers were 12,875.

Numbers alone do not make a great university. UW regularly receives awards for affordable and also receives high grades from our students. More than 90 percent of UW students are pleased with their UW education and would recommend UW to friends and relatives, according to the latest UW Student Satisfaction Survey. The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources consistently receives high marks from our students, who often cite the accessibility of faculty members, advising on their courses of study, and our scholarship program as exceptional.

During their academic careers and after graduation, our students continue to impress. Noah Hull, a Ph.D. student working on a quick-test method for brucellosis infection in mammals, including humans, received one of 10 national graduate fellowships from the National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense. This year, four of the 12 finalists for outstanding graduating senior were students in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Joshua Messer of Cheyenne received the Tobin Memorial Award as UW’s outstanding graduating man. Other finalists included microbiology major Kyle Bochanski and Mathias McCormick, a molecular biology major from Laramie. Animal and veterinary sciences major McKensie Harris from Laramie was a finalist for the Rosemarie Martha Spitaleri Award as the University of Wyoming’s outstanding graduating woman.

Educating young adults is only one arm of our core mission. Research and service to Wyoming citizens are the other elements of our land-grant charge. In the college, research covers everything from cell biology to community economics. Our Veterinary Sciences Department is home to both the Wyoming State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the Wildlife-Livestock Health Center. In addition to brucellosis testing, the lab also tests for rabies, helps veterinarians across the state diagnose animal diseases and conducts research on health issues in livestock and Wyoming’s wildlife populations.

Other research areas important to Wyoming citizens include advances in ruminant nutrition. Research includes evaluating genetic factors that affect feed efficiency, sage grouse habitat research and projects that focus on reclaiming disturbed lands. One area of particular interest is a program offered by the Wyoming Department of Agriculture to fund research on topics of concern to our stakeholders. Faculty members who receive one of these grants are also eligible for matching funds through the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station – a division of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Wildfires devastated much of the western United States this summer. Indeed, the skies in Laramie have been very hazy. Wildfire and soil/rangeland restoration after a fire are two other areas of research within the college. Anna Scofield, a former graduate student in our Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, together with faculty members Ben Rashford and Don McLeod, developed models policymakers could use to help reduce the cost of protecting structures threatened by wildfire. Professor Emeritus Steve Williams is using our Fletcher Park research site as a field laboratory for post-fire soil and rangeland recovery. The site was devastated by wildfire a few years ago and now provides a real-world laboratory for post-fire research. Information learned from this site will help land managers develop effective post-fire recovery programs for their areas.

Other changes this past year in the university include many new faces in leadership positions. Joining UW this year are four new academic unit deans: Sanjay Putrevuin in the College of Business, Michael Pishko in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Klint Alexander at the Law School and D. Ray Reutzel at the College of Education.

University of Wyoming Board of Trustees earlier this summer outlined the search process for a new university president to succeed Dick McGinity. Two committees have been charged with identifying candidates. The committee that will help launch the search, considering applications and identify a list of 10 to 15 candidates for further consideration met for the first time in August. More details are available at uwyo.edu/presidentsearch

The University of Wyoming, since its founding in 1986, has grown and evolved into the nationally recognized research and educational institution you see today. The university has remained Wyoming’s only four-year university and has not forgotten the founding principles of the land-grant system. We continue to strive to provide a quality educational experience for our students, conduct research programs that address key global issues, and offer outreach programs that provide services and scientifically based information to Wyoming citizens.

We hope you are proud of the University of Wyoming – Wyoming’s university.