Skip to Content

The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

Honorary degree awarded

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

                  During the University of Wyoming (UW) commencement ceremonies this May 14-15, Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) Executive Vice President Jim Magagna will earn the university’s highest award, the honorary doctoral degree. The university will also posthumously honor Northern Arapaho Elder Crawford White Eagle, Sr. 

                  The Doctor of Humane Letters degree recognizes individuals who embody the university’s high ideals, exemplify values of excellence, service and integrity and possess distinguished accomplishments in their professions, public service or service to humanity, according to UW. 

                  Nominations for the honorary degree come from UW alumni, current or former trustees and faculty members and are referred to a joint committee of trustees and faculty members, who send their recommendations to the Board of Trustees for approval. 

Exemplary service

                  “Jim’s background, life and career have influenced ranching, open space conservation and state and federal policies that impact Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain West,” said UW College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dean Barbara Rasco. “He has dedicated his life to helping maintain Wyoming’s open spaces, preserve the Wyoming way of life and advocate for many of the people and industries that call Wyoming home.” 

                  A long-time sheep rancher from southwest Wyoming, Magagna graduated from Rock Springs High School, holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and graduated with a law degree from Stanford Law School. 

A news release from UW shared, “He has represented the agriculture industry on numerous national, state and local councils and advisory boards.”

Before landing at WSGA in 1998, Magagna served as the director of the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments and the Office of Federal Land Policy as well as chaired the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. 

                  In addition, Magagna has served as president of the American Sheep Industry Association and president of the National Public Lands Council. 

Friend of agriculture

                  Throughout the years and in many positions, Magagna has advocated for livestock producers and agriculture as an industry, and educated many along the way. 

“Jim is a skilled attorney, effective communicator, trusted advisor and friend to all,” wrote Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY). “This combination made him a crucial part of state and national policy over the course of his career. His contributions to Wyoming, the Rocky Mountain West and the U.S. are unquestionable.” 

                  WSGA President Scott Sims said, “Jim has been a true leader for the ranching industry as executive vice president of the WSGA for the past 23 years. He is well respected and sought after for his guidance and opinion on what is best for the livestock industry and the state of Wyoming as a whole.” 

                  On the well-deserved honor, Magagna said, “This recognition was unexpected, but is humbly appreciated. It further motivates me to continue to work on behalf of our great state and our ranching industry.”

                  “I am grateful to the University of Wyoming, and in particular, the College of Agriculture, for this honor,” he continues.

                   More information on the honorary degree recipients is available at

                  Averi Hales is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

Back to top