A Public University’s Balancing Act: Institutional Possibilities, Pedagogical Advancement, Individual Benefit, and State Economic Development
As a land grant, flagship American public institution, the University of Wyoming’s (UW) transformation to connect the University’s values with Wyoming’s twentyfirst century needs while fostering a harmonious balance in the state takes place in a unique context. UW, the sole university serving the country’s ninth largest state, holds distinction as the nation’s least populous state with fewer than 600,000 residents dispersed across its 97,914 square miles. UW is charged with meeting the needs of this broadly dispersed population living in small cities and vast rural regions, including Wind River, the nation’s seventh largest Native American reservation, the home of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho nations. UW initiatives to support this transformation include: science education and research; engineering education, research and economic development; and professional educator preparation. These initiatives coincide with the creation of UW’s Native American Education Research and Cultural Center, formalized articulation agreements between UW and the state’s seven community colleges, and the development of UW’s comprehensive strategic enrollment plan. This chapter explores: (1) US flagship, land grant institutions and UW’s unique role as the state’s sole university; (2) the renewal of UW’s connections throughout the state in service to its people; and (3) UW enterprises created to reinvigorate the embodiment of its institutional virtues. In exploring these themes, this chapter reveals the hopeful ways that reinvigorating institutional virtues while connecting to current, relevant service can provide a joyful, positive and meaningful role for higher education in the current era.
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