LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) \u2014 When Ed Seidel had his last interview to lead the University of Wyoming, at the end of February, the coronavirus was never mentioned. But since Seidel took over as University of Wyoming\u2019s president at the beginning of July, and even before he officially started, the virus and the associated economic downturn have been far and away the most significant issues facing him. In the next few months, he will oversee the reopening of classes and the return of thousands of students to Laramie. At the same time, he will have to negotiate budget cuts at the university, due to the state government\u2019s budget crunch. So how does he feel about these challenges? Seidel said he is excited to take them on, and that he thinks the university can come out of these crises better prepared for the future. \u201cI am just full of enthusiasm for the future of this institution and this state, and I can\u2019t wait to really hit the ground running,\u201d Seidel said. \u201cI want to have an impact on this university and to move it forward. It takes years to do that, and that\u2019s my intention.\u201d Like others taking on new roles during the pandemic, Seidel has found it difficult to meet colleagues when most meetings are conducted online, the Laramie Boomerang reports. \u201cI\u2019m trying to meet some people, in a responsible manner, where there are venues where we can be safe, but mostly I\u2019m doing it by Zoom,\u201d he said. \u201cI will say, it\u2019s really hindering my ability to get to know this campus as quickly as I want to.\u201d He has tried to start meeting some faculty in backyards around town, where he must sit at the opposite end of the table from whoever he is talking to, he said. The chance of spreading the virus is far lower outside than inside. In a press release issued this week, he pledged to start his tenure with \u201c77 days of listening and learning.\u201d That is the amount of time between when he took office, on July 1, and the September 17 \u201cState of the University\u201d address. To better connect with the campus, the university has set up Instagram and Twitter accounts for Seidel. His Instagram account, which he will manage himself, had more than 440 followers at press time Thursday afternoon. Seidel declined to give an exact answer about his confidence in the plan\u2019s ability to stop an outbreak of the virus on campus, but he said that he will be flexible and attentive as the situation develops this school year. \u201cThings are developing rapidly right now, so I\u2019m just going to say that I\u2019ll be vigilant,\u201d he said. Budget cuts have emerged as the other crisis facing the university this summer. Seidel has instructed the university to get ready for two rounds of 10% cuts to the university\u2019s allotment from the state general fund, equivalent to about $35 million over two years. These budget cuts can be targeted so that some of the university\u2019s long-term goals can be preserved, Seidel said. He has identified four ways in which he wants to see the university grow over the coming years: more digital, more interdisciplinary, more entrepreneurial and more inclusive. Fulfilling each of these will further UW\u2019s mission as a land-grant university, to give back to the state, he said. \u201cWhether you\u2019re looking at budget cuts or budget enhancements, I want to move the university in directions that advance those areas,\u201d Seidel said. \u201cI want to take every opportunity to move the university towards its future and towards becoming even more valuable to the state.\u201d Seidel has had a long history in academia before taking the job at UW. After earning a Ph.D. in relativistic astrophysics from Yale University, he worked as a postdoc and professor at the University of Illinois. He then led research in relativity and scientific computing at the Albert Einstein Institute in Germany, before building the Center for Computation and Technology at Louisiana State University. Throughout this time, he became more involved in research at the intersection of physics and high-performance computing. After LSU, Seidel worked at the National Science Foundation, then at a university in Moscow that has a partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has worked in various administrative posts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Illinois system since 2014, and he had been the Vice President for Economic Development and Innovation since 2017.