Failed amendments required UW deans to meet with legislature

By Gregory Nickerson
— February 19, 2014
University of Wyoming campus. (Courtesy University of Wyoming)

Both houses of the Wyoming legislature have introduced two identical amendments to the budget bill that would require University of Wyoming deans to meet with standing legislative committees.

Update: Both of the amendments failed to pass during debate on  February 19.

House amendment 54 and Senate amendment 44 both would assign joint interim standing committees to meet with each of the colleges at the university, which include Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Business, and others. Membership of the committees would be decided by the Speaker of the House and the Senate President.

The amendments would have the deans meet with the legislative committees, “to discuss areas of mutual concern and ways in which their educational mission can be enhanced.” In an initial meeting, the deans and committee members would identify, “specific courses of action which the college will take to improve its educational mission within each area of concern.” Following that, the deans would report to the committees twice a year to provide updates to legislators on the action items.

Senate sponsors of the amendments included Senate majority floor leader Phil Nicholas (R-Laramie), Sen. Hank Coe (R-Cody), and Senate president Tony Ross (R-Cheyenne). Sponsors from the House included Rep. Glen Moniz (R-Laramie), House Speaker Rep. Tom Lubnau (R-Gillette), and majority floor leader Rep. Kermit Brown (R-Laramie).

University of Wyoming spokesman Chad Baldwin released the following statement in response to concerns over the amendments circulating on the university’s faculty email list:

“Rest assured, the university’s representatives at the Legislature are working to convince lawmakers that this proposed House amendment, and a similar one in the Senate, are not in the best interest of the state and the university.

“It’s not unreasonable for the Legislature to desire more information regarding the activities of UW’s academic units, but these proposed amendments go too far, with the potential of disrupting the established leadership structure of the university.

“The university’s position is that while it has an obligation to maintain strong communication with the Legislature, individual college deans should not report directly to legislative committees, and legislative committees should not have approval authority over academic programs.

“These amendments are two of several proposed by lawmakers that would affect UW, as the state budget bill is considered in the House and Senate. UW’s representatives are actively engaged in the process to advocate for those proposals that would benefit the university, and to oppose those that are not in its interests. The budget bill won’t be in final form until a conference committee of the House and Senate meets next week.”

UW employees and students are encouraged to follow the legislative process, and we will do our best to keep the university community updated on matters of significance to UW.

The text of House Amendment 44/Senate Amendment 54 is below: 

Page 177-after line 17  Insert the following new section and renumber as necessary:
“[UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING DEANS-COLLABORATION WITH LEGISLATURE]
     Section 334. 
     (a)  The president of the senate and speaker of the house of representatives shall assign a joint interim standing committee to each of the colleges at the University of Wyoming.  The dean of each college shall meet with the standing committee to which their college has been assigned to discuss areas of mutual concern and ways in which their educational mission can be enhanced.  The meeting shall take place at the joint interim committee’s first scheduled interim meeting after the effective date of this section.  On or before September 12014 and September 1, 2015, each college shall submit a plan to the standing committee to which it is assigned which addresses the areas of mutual concern discussed with the standing committee and which identifies specific courses of action which the college will take to improve its educational mission within each area of concern.  After approval of the college’s plan by the standing committee, the college shall provide a report to the standing committee on the actions it has taken to implement the plan two (2) times per year.  The first report shall be made on or before January 1st and the second report shall be made on or before June 30th.
     (b)  This section is effective immediately.”.
To the extent required by this amendment:  adjust totals; and renumber as necessary.  MONIZ, BROWN, LUBNAU 

— Gregory Nickerson is the government and policy reporter for WyoFile. He writes the Capitol Beat blog. Contact him at greg@wyofile.com.

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Gregory Nickerson

Gregory Nickerson worked as government and policy reporter for WyoFile from 2012-2015. He studied history at the University of Wyoming. Follow Greg on Twitter at @GregNickersonWY and on www.facebook.com/GregoryNickersonWriter/

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