University of Wyoming trustees plan meeting with legislative leaders

2014-07-15T06:11:00Z University of Wyoming trustees plan meeting with legislative leadersBy LEAH TODD Casper Star-Tribune The Billings Gazette
July 15, 2014 6:11 am  • 

CASPER, Wyo. — University of Wyoming trustees will kick off three days of meetings in Casper with a two-hour conversation regarding the university’s relationship with the Wyoming Legislature on Tuesday.

Trustees President Dave Palmerlee said the meeting, scheduled to begin at 4 p.m., is not in response to any particular event or problem. The talk will help strengthen the relationship between the Legislature and the state’s only public four-year university, he said.

“I think if we understand each other better and have better lines of communication, we’ll both do a better job for the university,” Palmerlee said.

If the meeting leads to the Legislature and trustees making decisions based on open information, that is a good thing, said Ed Janak, chairman of the UW Faculty Senate.

Some faculty are concerned the Legislature wants to take an administrative role in the university, Janak said.

This year, the Legislature passed budget footnotes requiring UW to report to lawmakers about offering reduced tuition to students from neighboring states and changing policy to help credits transfer more easily from community colleges to UW, among other things. In 2012, the Legislature passed a footnote mandating UW submit its plans for artwork to the university’s energy resources council and the governor for approval.

“It’s wonderful that the trustees and the legislators are going to get together in a room for that amount of time,” Janak said. “It would be wonderful if there were faculty and staff voices in that conversation as well.”

Trustees will also discuss a set of K-12 education benchmarks controversial in Wyoming for what they expect students to know about climate change. It will be UW’s first formal address of the Next Generation Science Standards since the Legislature banned them in Wyoming through a budget footnote in March.

“It’s an issue that’s on the minds of a lot of folks in the education community, including the university,” Palmerlee said. “This is just an educational opportunity for the board to learn more about that.”

A cohort of current and former UW professors and researchers wrote to the state board of education to support the standards in June. They did not speak for the university, the report’s author said at the time.

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