Early Bill Promotes Change in choosing UW Trustees

Old Main at the University of Wyoming houses the office of the UW President. UW News Service Photo

Rep. Chuck Gray, Casper, has filed a bill in the Wyoming Legislature which creates a new process of selecting the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees. Fremont County State Representative Tim Salazar is a co-sponsor. The bill is HB83. The new process would create accountability for the University of Wyoming board.

The bill conforms to the provisions of the Wyoming State Constitution.  With the bill, there will be a primary and general election every four years in each of Wyoming’s seven judicial districts that will narrow the field to two individuals.  The Governor will appoint a UW board of trustee from those two individuals.  Meanwhile, the Chairman of the board will be narrowed to two individuals in a statewide election every four years.  The Governor will also appoint the Chairman from the two nominated individuals.  With this bill, the size of the board will be decreased to eight members. 

“The board of the University of Wyoming needs to be accountable to the citizens of Wyoming,” Gray said.  “The current appointment process for the board is not appropriate.  Transitioning the appointed board to an elected process will create accountability.”

The bill is in response to an overall lack of accountability and direction with the UW board of Trustees, according to a news release from the sponsors.  According to the news release, “There have been numerous issues, including an overall lack of direction, with four vacancies in the office of the President in six years. The dismissal of President Laurie Nichols occurred without any initial transparency or explanation.  Since then, the UW board has used taxpayer funds to try to block the release of the details of the dismissal.  The board eventually relented, but it was not acceptable that a lawsuit was required for that basic transparency.   Wyoming state government allocates enormous sums of taxpayer dollars to support the university.  There needs to be accountability and HB83 creates a process where that occurs.”

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The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Jennings, Rep. Salazar, Sen. Bouchard, and Sen. James.

Since it is not a budget bill, a two-thirds vote would be required for the bill to be brought to the floor.

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