SHERIDAN — University of Wyoming officials kicked off a master planning process in Sheridan Sunday, inviting community members, alumni and stakeholders to provide input on how the state’s only four-year university is doing and how it could do better.
The UW Board of Trustees in December voted to authorize negotiation of a contract with Massachusetts-based planning firm Sasaki to update the campus master plan. The school’s last master plan was completed in 2009.
The plan will address elements such as green space, land use, new buildings, rehabilitation of buildings, repurposing existing buildings and traffic flow. It will also take into account the Science Initiative facility and student housing, alongside other planned projects.
Factors that will be considered include campus population growth; established and emerging academic and research priorities; preservation of historic campus elements; renovation and restoration needs; transportation; sustainability; local community impact; and utilities and communications infrastructure.
While the plan will primarily focus on physical elements of the campus, attendees at Sunday’s listening session — the first of the process across the state — discussed UW and its role in the state more broadly.
Participants answered questions such as:
• How can the university make you feel welcome and included on campus?
• What comes to mind when you think of the university?
• Why do you like most about living in your hometown?
The aim, consultants said, is to make the school “Wyoming’s University” by pulling in elements from across the state that residents enjoy.
The attendees offered their thoughts to the consultants and UW representatives. Several attendees pointed out the need for more efforts to increase diversity on UW’s campus; consultants said such feedback could result in recommendations for more gathering spaces that foster interaction across majors and disciplines.
Other suggestions included opportunities for collaboration across the state, which could mean professors spending more time interacting with local communities or departments within the university collaborating on specific projects in various counties. One example provided was the theater program utilizing its resources to work with community arts programs.
Michelle Sullivan, a UW trustee and Sheridan County resident, helped organize Sunday’s event. She also helped to facilitate meetings with individuals at the UW Research and Extension Center in Sheridan, a group of students at Big Horn High School who had applied and been admitted to the school, two groups of Sheridan High School students who had applied and been admitted to UW and representatives at Sheridan College.
Outside of Sheridan County, UW officials said the consultants would also be traveling to Rock Springs and Laramie to meet with a variety of both university employees and community members.
The master planning process will take about one year and will include data collection, development and testing of ideas and then a final plan. The 20-year master plan is scheduled for completion in January 2020.