Dan McCoy '93 leads the way into the outdoors at UW with the development of a new interdisciplinary degree program: Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Management.
By Marcia Trook
Dan McCoy ’93 began his tenure at the University of Wyoming (UW) 19 years ago developing its outdoor program, which was part of the recreation department. He was charged with engaging students, faculty, and staff in the outdoors through outings, the indoor rock-climbing facility, the year-long outdoor leadership development program, and promoting the program’s rental equipment to outdoor enthusiasts.
His good work and efforts put Dan in a position to develop a bachelor’s degree program in Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Management, which launched at UW this fall. Dan was part of the program’s curriculum development and in August 2017 was hired to administer and teach in the new degree program. The degree is a collaboration between UW’s Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources and the College of Business. Dan is uniquely qualified to manage this new degree program, as he has the experience and interdepartmental relationships that give him a strong foothold in both colleges.
Over the program’s two-year development, Dan travelled considerably to evaluate best practices, promote the program, and liaise with industry across the state. He also explored possible field course options abroad, including travels in Patagonia, Chile. Dan’s successful leadership in the degree development culminated with the unanimous approval by the university’s board of trustees in support of this new interdisciplinary B.S. degree.
This degree program is seen as a way to diversify and grow Wyoming’s economy, while at the same time attract and retain students to work in state. Program graduates will be well qualified to work in the state’s tourism industry – Wyoming’s second largest economic sector – or in governmental agencies where their work will impact decisions about the future of natural resources, recreation, and/or tourism.
While the university already has a number of established courses focused on natural resources, business and the environment, over the next few years, Dan will oversee the addition of 11 new program courses and the appointment of two new faculty members. Course offerings combine business management, entrepreneurial strategies, ethical leadership, and natural resource stewardship disciplines. He believes students will gain a deeper understanding of stewardship of cultural and natural resources, tourism’s best practices, and will concurrently strengthen their own commitment to conservation and passion for outdoor recreation. Within four years, the program’s enrollment is anticipated to reach 150 students, according to Dan.
Dan credits Brewster for his early “connection to the outdoors,” from his activities with Mr. (Eric) Chamberlain’s Outing Club to his involvement on Mr. (Reggie) Seller’s snowboard team. His love for the outdoors grew, becoming a key catalyst for his decision to choose a college in the west, the University of Montana in Missoula, as his next step.
In addition to his job, Dan plans to complete a Ph.D. in educational administration at UW this fall. He continues to embrace living out west, residing in Laramie, Wyoming, with his wife, Melanie Arnett and their two sons, Thomas and Beckett. The family hits the mountains for snowboarding or skiing during the winter months, and when the snow melts their adventures turn to camping, mountain biking, and white-water rafting. It’s clearly four seasons of outdoor adventures for the McCoy/Arnett family.