UW Haub School Receives Support for Training and Leadership Program | News

September 1, 2020

Students in UW’s Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources learn about finding collaborative solutions to natural resource challenges. (UW Photo)

A gift of $100,000 to the University of Wyoming from Dr. Tom and Debbe Spicer, of Rock Springs, will support the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, including the Ruckelshaus Institute’s Collaboration Program in Natural Resources.

“The generous support from Tom and Debbe Spicer to the collaborative solutions program of the Ruckelshaus Institute greatly increased our ability to support stakeholders, policymakers and managers in making decisions about natural resource management and policy,” says Steve Smutko, professor and Spicer Chair in Collaborative Practice.

Last year, the Spicers gave $100,000 to establish the Spicer Fund for Collaborative Solutions. They are continuing to support the fund in 2020, with an additional $100,000.

The Collaboration Program in Natural Resources is a training program offered through the Ruckelshaus Institute. Each year, 20 natural resource professionals are selected for the 10-month training program and focus on leadership and problem-solving while finding consensus and proposing solutions to some of today’s most pressing problems.

“We see a huge potential for program training and the resulting practicum projects to radically change the way we manage natural resources and carry out environmental policy in Wyoming and the West,” Smutko says. “Many of the projects carried out by participants have had significant and lasting impact. However, at the end of each cohort year, many of our participants reported that they were unable to meet the goals they had set out at the beginning of the program year. We used the Spicer gift to change that.”

Program graduates go on to lead problem-solving processes throughout Wyoming and other Western states, ensuring that natural resource management decisions are inclusive; consider more community and stakeholder needs; and will be more robust and longer lasting.

In addition to supporting the Collaboration Program in Natural Resources, the latest gift will fund community projects, such as the Wind River Outdoor Recreation Collaborative, the Pole Mountain Trails Public Involvement Project and the Collaborative Solutions Research Grant Program.

The Wind River Outdoor Recreation Collaborative coordinates and focuses resources to enhance the economic development potential of outdoor recreation in Wyoming. The private funding has made it possible for the Ruckelshaus Institute to enter into a formal partnership with the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources to find new opportunities and to strengthen communication among stakeholders.

The Pole Mountain Trails Public Involvement Project is organizing public meetings for environmental analysis. The Pole Mountain trail area is heavily used by hikers, Nordic skiers, mountain bikers and equestrians from southeast Wyoming and northern Colorado. The Spicer gift will support the Ruckelshaus Institute in coordinating and facilitating public meetings to identify trail uses and needs in this area. The grant also will enable UW Haub School students to participate in this project as part of the outdoor recreation and tourism management curriculum.

This fall, the Haub School will sponsor the Collaborative Solutions Research Grant Program, a competitive program open to all UW faculty to promote scholarly work in the theory and application of collaborative decision-making; civic engagement; conflict resolution; collaborative public management; and negotiation. The Spicer fund also will support graduate student research in the area of collaborative processes in natural resource management and environmental policy. 

Dr. Spicer graduated with honors from UW, earning a bachelor’s degree in zoology before pursuing his medical degree at the University of Washington. Debbe Spicer earned her bachelor’s degree from the UW College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in microbiology. The Spicers returned to their hometown in Rock Springs, where Dr. Spicer practiced medicine and was recognized as one of the region’s leading cosmetic and reconstructive surgeons before his retirement.

Dr. Spicer’s accomplishments include serving as a Western Wyoming Community College trustee; Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming board director; UW Foundation board member; UW Board of Trustees member and board president; and chief of surgery and medical staff president at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County.

The Spicers have supported many areas across campus, including athletics, facilities, scholarships, study abroad, the arts, the libraries and multiculturalism.

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