New UW President in Riverton: Human capital, not capital construction, is his goal for Laramie campus

Dr. Robert Sternberg visited with Michael and Stephanie Harris of Lander during a reception for the new UW President hosted by St. Sen. Eli and Lorraine Bebout Tuesday night in Riverton. (Ernie Over photo) 

(Riverton, Wyo.) – The new president of the University of Wyoming said one of his goals for the Laramie campus is to see that every Wyoming high school graduate who is qualified can go to college. Dr. Robert Sternberg told a Riverton audience Tuesday that he’d like to see a four-year partnership “like we have in Casper with all of (Wyoming’s community colleges). We need to do outreach because some students simply can’t get to Laramie.” He said a student could attend their first two years at a community college, such as Central Wyoming College in Riverton, and do their second two years at UW and receive a four year degree. “It is a great opportunity for students whether they stay at home or come to Laramie,” he said.

The new UW president, who began work at Laramie on July 1st, said the emphasis of his administration would “be on human capital,” rather than capital construction. “People have to come first, that’s my view.”

UW President Dr. Robert Sternberg

UW President Dr. Robert Sternberg

Speaking before a crowd numbering about 200 county residents, Sternberg also said UW is changing its admission requirements beginning next year, acknowledging that not all student achievement can be measured through standardized tests or grades. “Those are reasonable measures of academic skills, but we’re going to add an essay requirement because, “in a way, essays measure creative, practical, common sense, wisdom and leadership skills. We are going to encourage  alternate means of admission because there are many students qualified to go to UW but whose skills doesn’t show in ACTs and grades.”

That change is just one in Sternberg’s stated global goal of making UW the nation’s top land grant university “producing ethical leaders who will make the world a better place.” He said UW’s role in academia is not to try to compete with the elite colleges. “I want to produce leaders who can really get things done. There is no correlation between ACT and SAT and other such tests and traits such as common sense and wisdom,” he said.

Sternberg, who comes to UW from Oklahoma State University where he was Provost, said students who graduate from UW make good leaders because of their work ethics, creativity, wisdom, their ability to work in teams and are individuals who seek a common good. He said these graduates ” promote the economic and social development of the state,” which he said is the primary role of the university.

“Our job is to produce students who will create new and better jobs not just for a student’s first job, but for their second, third and four jobs. That’s not producing students with abstract reasoning skills and analysis that don’t fit in the practical world, but develop a student’s knowledge and skills to succeed on day one after graduation.”

He also said UW will “teach to the way kids learn.” He said he wants UW “to move away from the notion that a GPA is a measure of success, but rather to use portfolios that show a student’s best body of work. It’s a holistic view of them, to show what they can do.” And he said he wants to start a new ethical leadership track on campus.

Dr. Sternberg chatted with Margaret Reynolds of Riverton at Tuesday night's reception at the Riverton Holiday Inn. (Ernie Over photo)

Dr. Sternberg chatted with Margaret Reynolds of Riverton at Tuesday night’s reception at the Riverton Holiday Inn. (Ernie Over photo)