UW trustees give blessing to ‘Cowboy’ campaign

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It did not take long for the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees to agree that the world does indeed need more cowboys and cowgirls.

After less than half an hour of discussion at their meeting in Cody, the trustees voted unanimously Thursday afternoon to move forward with a marketing campaign with the primary slogan of “The World Needs More Cowboys.”

While some had objected to the slogan and campaign for not being inclusive enough of women and minorities, Chad Baldwin, the university’s associate vice president for marketing and communications, said that feedback was 10:1 in favor of going forward with the campaign.

Some of the responses that Baldwin received included comments like “Everybody can be a cowboy,” “Cowboys aren’t just males. A cowboy is anyone who is strong, smart, persistent,” and “A cowboy is not just some guy in a cowboy hat.”

“If there’s any indication we’re pulling back, the people of Wyoming will [hang] us,” Baldwin told the trustees Thursday.

However, Baldwin — as well as some of the trustees — said that opponents of the campaign should not be mistreated, as several have been harrassed for opposing the campaign, an opinion that UW President Laurie Nichols concurred with.

“We made some changes as a result of listening to our chief diversity officer, our diversity council and several faculty and students on campus,” Nichols said at Thursday’s meeting. “And after that was done … I insisted that we have in the message, ‘The World Needs More Cowgirls,’ which is in there now. Nonetheless, I think that we’ve done due diligence in listening to the concerns and I feel ready to move forward.”

The trustees watched an 84-second video related to the marketing campaign that shared its title, “The World Needs More Cowboys.” According to a survey, respondents’ perception of the University of Wyoming as being “rich in diversity” rose from 41 percent to 58 percent after viewing the video. In fact, Baldwin said that one of the respondents said that the video “helped [them] to understand that the school is much more modern than [they] imagined.”

The video and the campaign highlight UW’s diversity, a fact that was not lost on trustee John MacPherson. He pointed out that many cowboys were people of color and said he thought the trustees “need to jump on this [campaign].”

MacPherson also said that he received many calls in favor of the campaign.

“If you don’t do this, there’ll be a price to pay ...,” MacPherson said.

UW officials say research has shown the campaign’s message is connecting with prospective students. According to a survey of high school age students (15-18) who said they were “quite likely, very likely or extremely likely to apply to a four-year university,” the amount of those who said that they would either “definitely or probably” consider UW or apply for admission to UW jumped between 15 and 20 percent after viewing the video.

With the trustees and respondents on board with the new marketing campaign, Nichols is excited to see it move forward.

“Drawing upon Wyoming’s proud heritage, this campaign redefines what it means to be a Cowboy in this day and age, distilling it down to the inner spirit of curiosity and boldness that all who call themselves Cowboys and Cowgirls can identify with — no matter their race or gender, or whether they’re students, employees, alumni or other supporters,” Nichols said in a press release. “The Cowboy spirit is what the University of Wyoming helps instill in students, giving them the skills and support they need to make the breakthroughs that benefit our state and the world.”

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