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September 11, 2012 7:49 am

EDITORIAL: UW, NWC at crossroads in leadership

Written by Tessa Schweigert

Each search for new presidents to replace outgoing leaders

Next school year, new leaders will take over the helms at Northwest College and the University of Wyoming.

UW President Tom Buchanan announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of summer 2013. Similarly, NWC President Paul Prestwich will finish his tenure in June 2013.

Boards at both institutions now face the major task of finding new presidents.

At Northwest College, the search for its next top administrator is under way, as the NWC Board of Trustees continued discussing the search Monday afternoon. For the University of Wyoming, it’s just beginning.

As each institution searches for a new president, trust, communication and openness are critical for the boards, search committees and college communities involved in the process.

In the searches ahead, we challenge those involved to remember the ultimate goal: providing the best education possible for college students.

Amid statewide budget cuts and an uncertain economic outlook, institutions are pressured to balance responsible business with high-quality instruction.

It’s a challenge to maintain the right balance, and the next leaders must be cognizant of budget constraints while also providing innovative, quality education for students of all academic areas.

The University of Wyoming has seen growth and prosperity during Buchanan’s years as president. Thanks to Wyoming’s booming energy industries, UW’s base appropriation from the state has grown from $100 million to $195 million annually, according to a university release. Annual tuition revenues have climbed from $30 million to $55 million in that same time period.

Under Prestwich’s leadership, Northwest College also has seen growth. According to the college, student headcount has grown 28 percent over the past three years — the largest increase of any college in Wyoming. The college also is moving forward with plans to build a 49,700 square-foot building that will provide classrooms, labs, faculty offices and space for growing career-technical and workforce training programs.

We appreciate the years of service from Buchanan and Prestwich in these important administrative roles. Both men also provided plenty of time for an adequate search process to find replacements.

Wyoming prides itself on quality education at every level, and the next leaders at UW and NWC must further that goal.

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