mountaineer, author to receive honorary degree from UW | New

May 2, 2022

Joe Kelsey

The University of Wyoming will award its highest honor, the honorary doctorate, to renowned mountaineer Joe Kelsey during UW’s commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 14.

Kelsey is a former guide with the Exum Mountain Guides in Jackson and an internationally acclaimed author. His guide, “Climbing and Hiking in the Wind River Mountains,” served as a beacon for outdoor enthusiasts and a magnet for those looking to explore Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain West. He wrote other books that also brought Wyoming to the world.

Kelsey is also the keynote speaker at UW’s commencement ceremony at 8:30 a.m. on May 14 in the Arena-Auditorium, for graduating undergraduates from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, College of Business, from the College of Engineering and Applied Science, the College of Health Sciences and the School of Energy Resources.

“(Kelsey’s) Guidebook has made a significant contribution to the lives of the people of Wyoming, even those who will never pick up a copy or approach the winds, thanks to its central place in the leisure industry and state tourism. Joe, through this guide, has been one of our state’s most important ambassadors for over 40 years,” wrote one of its authors, UW Associate Professor of Philosophy Ed Sherline. “In short, Joe Kelsey’s nomination for an honorary degree is recognition of his incredibly important role in (celebrating) one of the greatest, most beautiful and pristine gems in a state replete with geographical gems, his authorship of a work of perceptual orientation. that continues to celebrate and encourage the legacy of exploration and adventure.

UW alumni, current or former administrators, and faculty members are eligible to nominate individuals for honorary degrees who embody the high ideals of the university; exemplify the values ​​of excellence, service and integrity; and possess distinguished achievements in their professions, public service or service to humanity. Submissions are referred to a joint committee of trustees and faculty members, which forwards recommendations to the full board for approval.

Kelsey, who holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Cornell University, discovered the Wind River Mountains on a trip to Cirque des Tours in August 1969. Since then he has climbed hundreds of peaks and routes in the iconic mountain range, with at least 23 first ascents. He has also climbed many other North American high places.

In addition to her flagship guide, Kelsey is the author of the book “A Place in Which to Search: Summers in the Wind Rivers”, as well as numerous articles in various journals and magazines.

“A mountaineer of his caliber could have pursued glory in more famous mountain ranges, via more dazzling feats. Instead, for decades he quietly built a network of explorers and other lovers of Wyoming’s wild places, honing his own expertise – and guiding – more like a demanding craft than a performance,” said writes another nominator, professor emeritus of mathematics at UW. Myron Allen. “His life is an example for all of us: do what you love; love what you do; seek depth; make a difference.”

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