The University of Wyoming has been a major partner of Wyoming Humanities since our inception in 1970 when we were housed at the university’s research office. The NEH initially launched investing in state humanities by way of grants to continuing/adult education programs at state land grant universities in 1969 and we were one of the first to morph into an independent nonprofit model in 1970. We’ve been tightly aligned with the university ever since. Our offices are provided as in-kind donation through an affiliation agreement that is approaching five decades long.
Indeed, there are numerous examples of the strong and innovative partnership between Wyoming Humanities and the University of Wyoming. For nine years we collaborated on Saturday University, bringing communities around the state a “free half-day of college” of three intriguing lectures by the finest professors at UW. The idea for this impactful program was born in a Wyoming Humanities Council Board meeting and soon it was a major program featuring our strong partnership and directed by the talented and creative Professor of Religious Studies, Dr. Paul Flesher. We’ve partnered with the UW Center for Global Studies for many years to support the annual “World to Wyoming Series with Mark Jenkins” tour of a dozen communities. Our relationship with Dr. Jean Garrison, who heads up the Center for Global Studies and has most recently played a lead role in the creation of the university’s new office of community engagement and outreach, is most fruitful and one in which our council anticipates a productive future.
We’ve invested in some of the most creative interdisciplinary projects conceived by UW Faculty, including the Ucross Pollination Experiment and Locust the Opera from the brilliantly collaborative and collaboratively brilliant mind of Dr. Jeff Lockwood. We were also early and continuing supporters of the Wyoming Pathways from Prison project providing high quality college courses to incarcerated women and men—ensuring that the humanities are used for creating opportunities for personal growth and self-reflection alongside skill-building and occupational preparation. We also have a joint endowment with the Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research at UW and are active partners with the organization to help them bring the research of the humanities faculty out to the rest of the state. The projects that we’ve invested in and partnered with the university are far too numerous to elaborate upon but are a clear demonstration of the strong bond between our organizations.
Equally important to our past, present, and future, is our close relationship with the Community Colleges of Wyoming. From our three decades of supporting the Casper College Humanities Festival to hosting a Museum on Main Street exhibit at Sheridan College, to our most recent “Nations Within a Nation” talk series in partnership with Central Wyoming College—just a few of the many events we’ve invested in or collaborated on with our partners in the seven community colleges of Wyoming.
At all times our board includes professors from UW and the community colleges. They represent the intellectual capital of all that we do. We retain ex officio board positions for the Executive Director of the Wyoming Community College Commission (the amazing Dr. Sandra Caldwell) and for the Director of the UW Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research (currently being hired but ably managed in the interim by the wonderful Dr. Sarah Strauss). Our job is to help promote, and protect, the humanities in higher education to ensure that the humanities and liberal arts are as valued as the STEM fields because we know that our future leaders need to bring human judgement into the intersections of our technical and digital lives.
Our partnership with the higher education ecosystem of Wyoming is integral, absolutely vital, to our work and we are so grateful for the strong healthy relationship we have with all of the institutions of higher ed in our state. We would have no humanities to promote without the thinkers and teachers of the humanities in our state and we have some of the best. We are truly and deeply grateful for our close, transparent, open, friendly, and incredibly productive relationship with UW and the community colleges of Wyoming. THANK YOU ALL!