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UW chooses new president

UW chooses new president

Feb 27, 2013 - By Bob Moen, The Associated Press

Robert Sternberg is the current provost at Oklahoma State University.

CHEYENNE -- Robert Sternberg said being named the 24th president of the University of Wyoming is a dream come true.

"I always thought that the perfect job would be at the University of Wyoming," Sternberg said Tuesday after being selected by a unanimous UW Board of Trustees.

Sternberg, currently provost at Oklahoma State University, said his attraction to UW included the pioneering spirit of Wyoming residents, UW's drive to improve and its mission to serve the entire state and educate its students.

"Some of the state-supported universities kind of forget their origins and that they are there to develop ... leaders and to work together with the state and provide unsurpassed value to the state," he said in a telephone interview.

Sternberg, 63, will take office July 1, succeeding the retiring Tom Buchanan.

The decision ends a search that was to be entirely secret until media outlets successfully sued to disclose the finalists' names. UW released the names last Friday and interviewed the four finalists last weekend.

Details of Sternberg's contract are still being worked out, but he has agreed to a three-year contract with an annual base salary of $425,000.

UW trustees President Dave Bostrom said Sternberg's resume stood out.

"He holds 13 honorary doctorates worldwide," Bostrom said. "He is a true scholar and has distinguished himself."

Gov. Matt Mead said in a statement that he looked forward to working with Sternberg to make sure that the university "continues to be a great resource to all students, and a contributor to the Wyoming economy."

At Oklahoma State, Sternberg served as the university's chief academic officer, with oversight of its various colleges and campuses consisting of about 35,000 students and 1,600 tenure-stream faculty members.

Sternberg noted that Oklahoma State and UW are both land-grant institutions in states with a strong energy industry.

In addition, the sports teams at both universities are "Cowboys."

"I'm already a cowboy, so that's an easy transition," he said. "Just the colors are different."

The other finalists were: Douglas D. Baker, University of Idaho provost and executive vice president; Warwick M. Bayly, provost and executive vice president at Washington State University; and Kim Wilcox, former Michigan State University provost and executive vice president.

UW began a search for a new president after Buchanan announced last fall he would be retiring.

The trustees decided to conduct a confidential search and to announce only the name of the person they chose for the job.

Media outlets, including the Casper Star-Tribune, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and The Associated Press challenged the secret search, saying the names of finalists should be made public.

District Judge Jeffrey Donnell ruled in January that the finalists' names had to be released. The state Legislature rushed through a new provision of the state's open meetings and records law that allowed UW and the state's community colleges to conduct secret searches for president. UW officials supported the law, arguing that releasing the names of finalists would scare away too many good candidates in the current search.

However, the uncertainty of further court action in the current search and the possibility of having to start the search over led the trustees to release the names of the four finalists still in the running.

Bostrom said Tuesday the trustees' actions were focused on finding the best candidate for the job.

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