Frank Mendicino of the University of Wyoming Foundation defends the sale of the Y Cross ranch and says UW and CSU officials maintained integrity in the decision to sell the property. (photo courtesy of Donal O'Toole)

Guest column by Frank Mendicino

Frank Mendicino, member of University of Wyoming Foundation board of directors.
Frank Mendicino, member of University of Wyoming Foundation board of directors.

Announcement of the sale of the Y Cross ranch by its owner, C.C. Davis & Company LLC, a for profit Wyoming limited liability company, the members of which are the University of Wyoming and Colorado State University foundations, has prompted editorial comment not only critical of selling the ranch, but also calling into question the integrity of the foundations, their staff members and their unpaid, voluntary board members (who, collectively give thousands of hours of their time annually, as well as their money, to support UW and CSU), and accusing them of violating their positions of trust. It is unfortunate that we cannot have honest differences of opinion and civil discourse without personalizing our differences of opinion by calling into question the intelligence, integrity, motivation etc, of those with whom we disagree, but that seems to be the way it is in our society today. In any event, the following is my attempt to set the record straight.  

The UW Foundation is a Wyoming nonprofit corporation that has been recognized as a public charity under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3). Although its purpose is to support the University of Wyoming, it is a separate entity from the university, it is not a state agency and, therefore, it is not subject to the Wyoming Public Records Act. Endowment and other gift agreements are private agreements between donors and UW Foundation and often contain confidential, personal, financial and family information about the donor. UW Foundation does not have the right to divulge the contents of these agreements, and it would be inappropriate to do so. If these agreements were made public by UW Foundation it would make it infinitely more difficult to raise money for the benefit of the University. For those reasons, UW Foundation is unwilling to make public the Memorandum of Agreement by which the Courtney C. Davis Foundation (99 percent) and Amy Davis (1 percent) gifted their interests in C.C. Davis & Co, LLC to UW Foundation and the CSU Foundation. However, the agreement is in the public record, having been entered into evidence by Ms. Davis in the litigation she initiated against the Foundations and the LLC in the First Judicial District Court in Laramie County, Wyoming, and can be found in the record at Docket 180-233.

The agreement contains a vision statement that says the ranch will continue to operate as a working cattle ranch, the primary objective of which is cattle production and that it would benefit the universities, through their foundations, by generating “net revenues from ranch operations” to be used to provide “scholarship and/or internship support for CSU and UW students majoring in agriculture and national resources,” and by providing a “working laboratory for observation and study of plant-animal systems.”  The agreement is clear that funding for academic programs was to come from net revenues from ranch operations. It was not anticipated or expected that funding would come from any other source. This was a shared vision between the donors and the universities’ Colleges of Agriculture when the gift was made.

In recognition that the ranch was not in good repair at the time of the gift, the agreement established two 7-year phases: During the first phase, the ranch was to be put on a “solid financial and structural foundation; During the second phase, the concentration was to be on making funds available “from ranching operations” [author’s emphasis] to support scholarships, internships and laboratory/observation activities. Fourteen years after the date of the gift the universities were “… encouraged to continue the joint arrangement for an indefinite term.”  However, if either university wanted to dissolve the arrangement, dissolution could be accomplished by one foundation becoming the sole member of the LLC or by the foundations together selling the ranch.

The 14 years expired on August 25, 2011. During that period, the universities and the ranch management committee (Ms. Davis, or a representative appointed by her, was a member of the management committee and participated in every decision) did everything in their power to realize the vision. The physical condition of the ranch and the quality of the cattle herd were significantly improved. However, from the date of the gift through June 30, 2011 (end of fiscal year 2011), not only did the ranch not generate any net revenues, the net loss was a cumulative $978,838.87 (see footnote below).    

Based upon the 14 year financial performance of the ranch, in 2011 the deans of the Colleges of Agriculture, both of whom were on the ranch management committee and were intimately familiar with the ranch operation, reached the conclusion that there would never be enough net revenue to realize the vision of providing meaningful scholarship/internship support for agriculture students or to develop laboratory/observation programs on the ranch. The deans consulted with their university presidents; the presidents consulted with one another; and the universities, not the foundations, decided to exercise the option clearly, unequivocally and unconditionally set forth in the gift agreement to sell the ranch. The decision was made in good faith in accordance with the gift agreement, consistent with the intent of the donors at the time of the gift, and in the genuine belief that the best way to achieve the donor’s desire to provide scholarship/internship support for agriculture and natural resources students was to sell the ranch.

At the universities’ request, the foundations set out to sell the ranch. Through one of her attorneys in October, 2011, Ms. Davis acknowledged that the sale of the ranch was authorized by the Memorandum of Agreement and stated that the Davis Foundation “is in agreement with resolutions to sell the ranch for its highest and best value.” In an effort to insure that the process of selling the ranch was completely fair and transparent, a request for proposal was sent to numerous real estate firms in Wyoming and Colorado that specialize in ranch sales and a realtor was selected. So that all potential buyers who were interested in the ranch had a fair and equal opportunity to buy it, a sealed bid process was established. Two former governors, one from Wyoming and one from Colorado, agreed to preside over the opening of the bids to assure the fairness, accuracy and transparency of the process and to confirm the highest bidder and the amount of the bid.

Unfortunately, notwithstanding her earlier acknowledgment that the sale of the ranch was permitted by the gift agreement and her agreement that the ranch should be sold for its “highest and best value,” in November, 2012, Ms. Davis sued to block the sale. Even though neither she nor her representative on the management committee nor anyone on her behalf had complained to either university or foundation that the ranch was not being used as she intended when the gift was made, she made numerous public statements to that effect. The facts are that, at the time of the gift, the donors and the universities hoped and believed the vision could/would be realized, but they also understood the ranch might not generate sufficient net revenue, in which case they all agreed the universities would be permitted to sell the ranch after 14 years and the proceeds from the sale would be used as set forth in the gift agreement for scholarships, internships and related academic programs in agriculture and natural resources.

Ms. Davis passed away very shortly after the Wyoming Supreme Court decided the litigation in favor of the foundations. After her death, the foundations were approached by her representatives with a proposal that significant additional funds could be made available to support the operation of the ranch, thereby making net revenues from operation of the ranch available for scholarship/internship support and for the establishment of programs that would allow the use of the ranch as a laboratory for learning. With the consent of the universities, the foundations negotiated in good faith with the Davis representatives for over six months. In mid-March, 2015, we thought we had a written agreement pursuant to which the universities would be able to continue to operate the ranch and provide scholarship/internship support for agriculture students. In mid-May, the Davis representatives changed the terms of the agreement so materially and substantially we had no choice but to reject it. And so, we proceeded to sell the ranch.

UW’s share of the proceeds from the sale of the ranch will be used to establish an endowment, the annual payout from which will be at least $400,000 in the beginning and, depending upon investment returns, much more as the years go by. If CSU establishes a similar endowment, the two endowments will generate at least $800,000 per year forever for scholarship/internship support and related agriculture and natural resource education programs in the name of the C.C. Davis Foundation and Amy Davis. That comes to $11.2 million generated during the next 14 years versus a loss of almost $1 million during the first 14 years.

Thanks to the generosity of the Davis Foundation and Ms. Davis, for which the universities are extremely grateful, agriculture and natural resources students at both schools will benefit for generations. Under these facts and circumstances, the decision by the universities to sell the ranch was reasonable, rational and produced a very beneficial result for agriculture students at both Universities. Although I respect the right of people to disagree with the decision, calling into question the integrity of those who made it and/or accusing them of violating their trust is inappropriate, uncalled for and wrong.

It has been alleged that UW College of Agriculture and Natural Resources faculty members were not informed of the availability of the Y Cross ranch for academic programs. Even IF true, that is an internal college communications problem that does not support a conclusion that there was an attempt to keep the availability of the ranch a secret so it could not be used, thereby enabling the sale to occur. That is a ridiculous allegation and is completely contrary to common sense and to the facts.  

The UW Foundation and its president/CEO, Ben Blalock, have borne the brunt of allegations of lack of integrity and violation of trust. There has been speculation about the amount of Ben’s compensation as vice president for institutional advancement of the university and president/CEO of the foundation, and it has been specifically alleged that Ben’s motivation for selling the Y Cross ranch is that he will receive a commission or some other increase in compensation as a result of the sale of the ranch. Ben did not have the authority to make the decision to sell the ranch, nor did he do so. His job, and that of his counterpart at CSU, was to supervise the implementation of the decision of the UW and CSU administrations. As a matter of policy, neither Ben nor any employee of the UW Foundation receives a cent of compensation based upon a commission on the amount of money raised or the amount of money for which an in-kind gift like the Y Cross is sold. The UW Foundation portion of Ben’s salary is determined by the UW Foundation Board of Directors, which includes several members who have many years experience hiring CEOs and other senior executives and determining salary levels based upon the current market for the position. Ben’s UW Foundation salary has always been based upon the board’s determination of the current market for successful university foundation CEOs. He did not receive any additional compensation as the result of the sale of the ranch.

Ben Blalock became vice president for institutional advancement at UW and president/CEO of the UW Foundation on September 30, 1996. Although records prior to 1996 are incomplete, it is believed the average annual fundraising at UW for the five years preceding Ben’s arrival was approximately $6.2 million and the biggest fundraising year was approximately $7.8 million. When Ben arrived, there had been 11 gifts made to UW of $1 million or more. The endowment pool managed by the foundation when Ben arrived was approximately $34 million. Working with five UW administrations, UW trustees, governors, numerous college deans, faculty, the state legislature, donors, and board members, through June 30, 2015, Ben has been responsible for raising $789.5 million for the benefit of the University of Wyoming and its students, including $199 million in state matching funds — an average of $41.55 million per year. The endowment pool is now $450 million and there have been more than 100 gifts of $1 million or more. Based upon this financial performance, Ben would make four or five times (or more) as much in the private sector as he makes at UW. He deserves our appreciation and thanks. He does not deserve to have his integrity questioned or to be accused of a violation of trust.

FOOTNOTE: Due to high cattle prices between 2011 and 2015, the cumulative net loss from the time of the gift through August 13, 2015 (date of sale) was reduced to $322,243.54. Cumulative net loss includes approximately $1.74 million in depreciation that is offset by capital investments (buildings, corrals, equipment and cattle herd upgrades) of approximately $2 million. Cumulative cash flow during 18 years of ownership was +$277,037.93 compared to at least $800,000 per year in net endowment income X 18 = $14.4 million during the next 18 years all for the direct benefit of students. From my perspective the universities’ decision to sell the ranch was the obvious choice to make.

— Frank Mendicino is a member of the University of Wyoming Foundation Board of Directors, of which he has been chairman as well as chairman and vice-chairman of the Foundation’s Investment Committee. He was Attorney General of Wyoming from 1975-78. He is a longtime member of the University of Wyoming College of Business Advisory Board and the Cowboy Joe Club Board of Directors. He is also a past president of the Cowboy Joe Club and a past member of the Western Research Institute Board of Directors. In 2005, he was honored by the University of Wyoming with an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

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  1. Also, did the U of Wyo Foundation factor in some other matters.
    Google, and READ. ” The Rich University: the mother of All Tax Breaks”, that pops up on the WWW,
    a piece in Fiscal Times, Oct 2011.
    The amount of money that some real Estate Agents made in COLO, off of taking the Y Cross off the U of Wyoming Foundation books,(assets), is amazing. But, how many professors in ranching or finance, in Wyoming believe the Y Cross was a big “loser”, in the sum of all factors? And, as ran by the University of Wyoming Foundation? Can we get some more Wyoming political auditors to dazzle the folks in WYO, with WYOFILE specials. That would be very curious, too.

    Jim Hagood

  2. Oh, one other matter, is a primo ranch(Y Cross) increasing in value, what factors were used in that? it was after all a ranch that had no loan, when turned over to the Wyo Foundation management in 1997. Then, it was at a lower value,( 1997), so there is some rate of average yearly increase in value. Also, the hunting fees.
    After all, it was a big cattle ranch. There was just so so much that never appeared on the WYOFILE, by the OFFICIALDOM. When cattle operations were conducted, what? Is the University of WYO Foundation, just leaving the impression that Y Cross was a “loser”. That term seems to be thrown around by some associated with the U of WYO Foundation. To compare a real super” loser”, what was the situation on the State of Wyoming investment in mortgage backed securities. Again, underscore the piece in the Wyoming Lawyer, August 2015 edition. Amazing, the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled the lawyers who brought the suit against Moody, in Wyoming, did so in the wrong court. But, Moody, had lawyers from Casper and a big corporate Law firm in Denver offering up, defenses from Moody. This is all rather amazing in some bigger picture of events transpiring in Wyoming. The Wyo File Foundation paid what big fee to the Colorado Real Estate Agent(FIRM), who got rid of the Y Cross Ranch, to take it off the books of the U OF Wyoming Foundation as an asset? They were not paid chicken feed.

    Jim Hagood

  3. Did the Y Cross Ranch land values depreciate, between 1996 and 2015, when it was sold?
    The new buyer put a value on the ranch of $ 50 million absent any conservation easement.(per his comments in the news), after the U Wyo Foundation made a big deal of not disclosing the new buyer.
    Don’t some ranches listed in Wyo have prices will above $ 500/ acre?
    Land generally appreciates in value. There was no provision in some agreement, signed by Ms Amy Davis
    that mandated that the Y Cross ranch be sold after 14 years. Does a non-profit, operate on its IRS filings the same as a for profit commercial ranching outfit? How much did the Y Cross appreciate in value, between certain key dates? Basis of market analysis? By who? One thing is certain, the Y Cross was not like some toxic commercial paper, junk bonds, or mortgaged backed securities that the State of Wyoming invested in. How much money did the State of Wyoming(via its managers) lose in those investments? Or, is that off ground(in the hush hush FILE) in the category on non-disclosures as well? The deafening sound of silence is really amazing on some issues in WYOMING. Underscore, noted Wyoming Lawyer piece on the law suit against Moody’s, August 2015 edition, right before the piece in the
    Sept 8, 2014 WYOFILE specials on Y-CROSS

    Jim Hagood

  4. By the way, the business partner of the Ex Governor of Wyoming, Ed, was the Chairman of the Wyoming Democratic Party on the Yellowstone Ranch matter. Legal cases rolled out, and were reported on the bankruptcy filings, all that can be popped up on
    googles. Mr Mendicino, the ex(STATE) AG of the ED Administration during some of his term, has really targeted Ms Amy Davis( in 2015) and her advisor(s)., WYO FILE, etc, the medium used, http://WWW.. Of course, she is not here to give her perspective. As to master -servant relations in Wyo, one only needs to google the federal Case of Estate of ROSA, a ruling by the 10th Circuit of the Federal U S Court of Appeals, Judge Doyle. As to the supposed loss on the Y Cross Ranch, while under the U of Wyoming Foundation control, it is indeed curious, how this got conflated with some P R campaign for Ben Blalock. Herding around P R sentiment might work at a BYU football game, but that is a whole other area of history at U of WYO.
    After all, Mr Blalock, used a cyber tweet(WWW- to to brand some ex U W Coach a “loser”, another sterling display of Blalock P R specials, all linked to some Air Force game, pandering to some Athletic Director (A D)

    Jim Hagood

  5. 30 years ago, in Sept of 1985, Time Magazine had a big article on the Ex Governor of Wyoming.
    Governor Ed, with partners, bought an 18,000 acre ranch near Lander for about $ 5 million in 1977. 8 years later, he declared bankruptcy due to loan troubles, according to the TIME’S piece.
    When the Y Cross Ranch was under the U of Wyoming Foundation management , there were no loans on the ranch. Also, in 1985, the interest rate climate was much different than 2015, when the Y Cross was sold, by the U of WYO Foundation. Cattle prices were high, interest rates low, and no loan on the Y Cross RANCH, when the U of Wyoming Foundation supposedly managed it. Where are all the professors to
    gush forth their explanations on how the U of WYO Foundation loss so much money when it
    had the Y Cross Ranch under its control? Where? Where? AWOL.

    Jim Hagood

  6. A Casper Law firm represented Moody Investment Service along with a big Denver Corporate law firm,
    in the case State(of Wyoming) v Moooy investment Service. Are any going to appeal to the folks in Douglas,
    Wheatland, Laramie, Sun Dance, etc, that the State should gush forth great gratitude to the LIL Club who deals in commercial paper.
    Where are all the professors on the Y-Cross and how it loss money, as a primo ranch, that had no loan on it while under the Wyoming U Foundation management, see on the loss claims etc, that have raised considerable issues, in assorted places; after all, there are Alumni of U of W in places beyond Goshen County Wyoming

    Jim Hagood

  7. Not sure if any Wyoming Lawyers read WYOFILE, and matters on the Y-Cross.
    However, in the August 2015 Edition of the Wyo Lawyer( page 58) is a piece a case on the State of Wyoming v Moody’s Investment Service on how the State of Wyoming lost big money on investments in “mortgaged backed securities. The Wyoming Supreme Court dismissed the case, on jurisdictional grounds ruling Wyoming was the wrong place to bring such action. Lets see, the Wyoming Foundation has millions under its management, but, no professors pipe up up on the Y Cross, and what it should have made, as a 60,000 acre ranch, with no loan on it? What about Wyoming history, then, no professors pipe up on The Yellowstone ranch, and the ex Wyoming Governor who declared bankruptcy, on his his follies on the Yellowstone Ranch.
    The Wyoming Lawyer Magazine would not carry a piece on Courtenay Davis highlighting his landmark jury verdict in Courtneay Davis v the Alioto Law Firm. But, some must google in America, these days in the digital era.

    Jim Hagood

  8. God forbid that any might ever ask someone like a Harlan Hughes what Y Cross should have made.
    See: His Beef Magazine pieces, and his “Market Advisor” reports, and his pieces on gross profits per cow
    etc, Harlan Hughes is noted as living in Laramie Wyoming, and he was a professor at North Dakota State , University, on the economics of cattle ranches. Additionally, the Dept of Education has come out with a score-card, comparing student debt loads , and earnings of graduates. The recent piece on that in the New York Times notes:” Colleges are good at tracking down rich Alumni to ask for donations…..”
    Did Wyoming Foundation have trouble in getting people in the Teton Valley to donate their ranches to
    U of Wyo Foundation? Also, Dunn and Bradstreet has some data on ranch operations and financial flows.
    Y Cross Ranch had no loan on it between 1997, and part of 2015, a 60,000 acre ranch. There are many people who have lots of expertise on evaluating the economics of ranching. Why did Y Cross supposedly lose so much money, when it was under the management of the U of WYO Foundation? What–no comment on that, given assorted matters that have come-up? Well, professors write books on taxes, on
    depreciation, and the many aspects of the tax code. Professors are big on highlighting how many grants are obtained, CSU was hooting on its climate change grants, from assorted Federal agencies. If truth is so important as a supposed value at universities, where are all the professors pointing out how it was that the Y Cross ranch loss so much money according to what has surfaced, lately per the people associated with the U of Wyo Foundation? Now, what is the word at the CHENEY PLAZA: MATTER CLOSED.

    Jim Hagood

  9. Further searching reveals Foundation tax records for the last five years are available on line and list Mr. Blalock’s annual salary at approximately $500,000 per year.

    Kim Viner

  10. It is noteworthy that Mr. Mendicino (or Mendocino as spelled in the Boomerang) stated “a recent guest editorial by Donal O’Toole is inaccurate and grossly overstates Blalock’s compensation.” So, if Donal’s figures are wrong, what are the correct numbers?

    Kim Viner

  11. Is the head of the head of the Ag Dept in Laramie echoing the refrains of the sale is finally taking the Ranch off the BOOKS? As a real estate asset. That must have been a curious dynamics in Laramie between sections of the Wyo (U) Foundation, the head of the Ag Dept,(another FRANK) and the Animal Science Dept, and assorted. Obviously, the Ag Head in Laramie is not up on CPA matters on ranching, and the nature of things in that sphere. Did he get reports on cash flow from the ranch? Or was he more interested in Federal Grants in his special nitch? Herding cats is not easy,at any university, seems to be more and more apparent in the mix of all that went on.(in LARAMIE).

    Jim Hagood

  12. Where does Mr Blalock go; to those who he thinks have money or assets to fork over to the UW Foundation. What the average salary( comp package) is for University Foundations that raise near the same sums as Mr to Blalock would be a yard stick to examine. Apparently, the U W Foundation got some in Casper to fork over big sums. There are some amazing stories on the chaps who developed the Jonas Field, who later sold their interest to a Canadian based OIl and Gas Company. Mr Blalock is sensitive to the ex UW Football coach who was in the fuss with the Air Force Academy coach(all over the NEWS). Most curiously, one of the major Pards, who developing the Jonas Field was an Air Force Academy Grad. Did Bob Knight at Indiana have lingo that offended a few folks, Mr Blalock called the Ex U of Wyo coach a loser, plastering all over the
    WWW. Mr Blalock did not profit or earn his money in the sense of running a corporation or a Hedge FUND. The axed ex UW Coach is now doing very well with the AGGIES, Texas A & M. I don’t begrudge Mr Balaock an appropriate compensation, but recall it is not the hedge fund standard. Some of those chaps pull in a billion/ year. Mr Blalock has to go where the money is and convince people to fork over money and assets. Mr Courtney Davis was a very successful man, conservation easements and tax complications compound the complexities in hard assets, land. What are some yardsticks to examine, what is the compensation for the South Dakota University Foundation President, or some other Rocky Mountain Foundations? I suggest that is a staring point to get some frame of references. At one time , the big Majors(Oil companies) didn’t think the area now knows as Jonas field was worth much. They were wrong.
    Mr Air Force Grad proved all the major oil companies wrong..A smart guy who was an Air Force Academy grad are the people U W(Foundation) looks to in some instances.
    Thankfully, the U W Foundation got the guy to fork over big money to the U W Foundation.
    Obviously, U W Foundation can target people who never went to U W to fork over money to the U W Foundation. Did you see any CSU grads make any big Donations to the U W Foundation? FAT chance.

    Jim Hagood

  13. This was an interesting exchange on the Y Cross ranch purchase and sale. The particulars seem to be in dispute and it appears that there is no way to access the documents in play. So rather than address that, I want to focus on the issue of compensation. Since it has not been denied, I feel it is safe to assume that Mr. Blalock is being compensated somewhere north of $600,000 per year (including bonuses).

    The argument presented by Mr. Mendicino supporting the amount is specious. He presents a case that is supported by selective reasoning – since many CEO’s receive more compensation than Mr. Blalock, it must be true that he should be compensated as he has been. One can look at this two ways. On the one hand the average CEO of a fortune 500 company earns about 300 times the money that his workers receive. Some argue this fair, as Mendicino does, based on the value of the CEO. I think not. But look at it the way the American Enterprise Institute, a huge supporter of business, does. They reported in May that a review (based on Bureau of Labor statistics) of the nearly 250,000 CEO’s in America finds that the average compensation is “only” $180,000. In the former instance Mr. Blalock’s compensation is unfair to workers and in the latter he is paid three times what the average American CEO received.

    Let us look at it from yet another angle. Mr. Blalock serves a non-profit organization which is represents the citizens of Wyoming whose population averages less than $30,000 dollars per year income according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Is his value to the citizens of the state worth more than 20 times theirs? How about another angle: the Boomerang recently listed the salaries of different employees of the institution. Is Mr. Blalock’s “worth” to the university 26 times that of an office assistant? Lastly another angle based on the responsibility of position: the commanding officer of a U.S Navy ballistic missile submarine, with the power to destroy several million people earns 1/5 as much as Mr. Blalock. Shocking isn’t it?

    Two final points. Many studies have shown that executive compensation has outstripped that of the “average” worker by at an increasing rate over the past decade. I am not sure that a non-profit should be seeking to emulate that model. Secondly, I view Mr. Blalock as a public servant – employed by a state funded institution and a non-profit entity. I would think that he, and his board of directors would keep this in mind and note that the funds for the excessive compensation would be better suited to scholarships for students (outside of the athletic department).

    Kim Viner
    Commander U.S. Navy (ret)
    U.W. Class of 73

  14. As some may know, the ” Deed of Conservation Easement”, dated August 26, 1997, sets forth many things, and is at the Laramie County Recorder’s office, book 1459. Are some using a hedge fund, frame of reference, that is curious, didn’t Rita even read the document in the Country Clerk’s office before she issues a press release for Mitt Romney. The great secrecy crusade of Rita and her pals(in the political class), astounding.

    Jim Hagood

  15. When one buys a condo, the HOA documents are required disclosures, the property was marketed
    “Legendary Wyoming Ranch”
    (from the WORLD WIDE WEB)
    A legendary ranch in one continuous block consisting of over 60,000 acres (95 square miles), Y Cross Ranch is located in northwest Laramie and west central Albany counties, north of I-80 between the cities of Laramie and Cheyenne. The ranch has Territorial Water Rights from ten creeks, four major ditches with irrigation rights for over 2,000 acres with a rated carrying capacity of 1,050 animal units. Elevations range from 6,400 ft. at the east end and feature rolling grasslands which gradually rise to the Horse Creek Hogback at 8,613 ft of rugged and forested terrain where the ranch borders the Medicine Bow National Forest. This is a low overhead grass ranch with two sets of improvements that include four residences, numerous barns, sheds, shops, several outbuildings, corrals and livestock handling facilities. The ranch has significant wildlife populations including elk, mule deer, antelope, black bear and the occasional moose and mountain lion(read more).”

    How does one lose money on a 60,000 acre ranch with no loans on it, and if a non-profit, it had other tax exemptions? On the animal unit carry capacity, what was that record during the time the university of Wyoming Foundation ran the show? So, are we to believe that the big lesson here is that a university that calls itself the Cowboys just did not cut it when it came to running a ranch, regardless if very few students ever set foot on the ranch?
    Is this now a matter of SEALS, some big pattern at U of Wyo of roll it under secrecy. While Ms Davis and her father are passed away, how can U of Wyo be so smug on matters. All one had to do was look in the County Clerk’s office for some of the documents, some others were on the I-NET, could be googled up. Doesn’t the University of Wyo want to teach students the lesson on how it lost money on a primo ranch, with no loan, and as it wrapped itself in a non-profit? All in some periods where there were high cattle prices?
    There must be other lessons on this matter, but great, Keep it a secret on matters is the special, all where truth is not given a high value at a land grant University( U of W). IS CSU on board on that, too?
    It is no secret that ARCH COAl, lost around 98 % of its value, see charts on the Stock Exchanges.
    I suppose the “art of the deal” WYO style is being treated like the secret formula for micro waved cell phones, or some of the many excuses that can be popped up in Laramie at the non-profit.

    Jim Hagood

  16. Ms Amy Davis, and her dad Courtenay Davis did not announce the sale of the Y-Cross Ranch(which was sold in 2015). Ms Amy Davis died in 2014, Mr Courtenay Davis died in 1995. Odd, how that got badly mixed up in the guest oped. Obviously dead people don’t talk, but It is clear Ms Davis was opposed to the sale, she brought a law suit, where the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled she(her linked Foundation) had no “standing”. As to matters presented to the Wyo State Court(s), Ms Davis did not opt to keep things secret, in the last 5 years. Some at some non-profit, so called, do not and did not speak for the Davis Family. When Courtenay Davis sued the Alioto Law firm, for breach of trust, and malpractice, that law firm did not speak for Mr Davis. Interestingly, that was the subject of magazine pieces, and an oral history at a University, but not by the U of Wyoming. As to speculation of what others make, that is pure speculation, and marketing hype. Some land does not depreciate, but increases in value over time. Granted the matter is complex. Obviously Frank does not speak for the Burke Ranch Family, too. I am neutral, was not a party to the Davis law suit. Could Princeton have made more money than Wyo(its linked Foundation), after all Courtenay Davis was never a grad of the University of Wyoming. If there is some purpose of the oped to have some marketing hype for Mr Blalock, to pander to him, then is that a human resource issue, linking in Wall Street, and discounted cash flow. Funny all the talk of secrecy, but then numbers are run on cattle prices, as if that is suppose to impress people. Obviously, the Davis Family did have the means to make a gift to the U of Wyoming Foundation, because they did not fall off the back of a turnip truck in Chicago, it seems that the insults are coming from some in Wyoming, know the Davis family passed away, and it is chilling for some to put words in their mouth, that is not gracious, that is beyond the pale. Of course, the Univ OF Wyoming Foundation does not have other assets to off set losses, on income taxes,(paid) because it keeps telling the IRS it is a non-profit entity.(see where there is a space on IRS forms on conservation easements)

    If Ranching is such a bad deal in Wyoming, that is beyond the scope of this comment,
    Mr Courtenay Davis was one of the foremost experts on cattle pricing and antitrust matters in America.
    Perhaps, Mr Blalock could take time from his very VIP important & busy schedule to read the piece on Courtenay Davis, & the Editors at the Wyoming Business Report can surely give him a WWW tab, to plug into it.
    I am not asserting “trust” was broken, or am I going to cite bible verse on “pottage”. I know of one who
    was grad of the U of Washington Law School, in St Louis who made large donations to the U of WYO Foundation, too. If cattle prices were high, it is curious how some derive losses, but then that footnote
    was slipped in there which led to an view on the “obvious choice” from a certain perspective.
    I want to add I am grateful for the great legal education I got at U of Wyoming law school.

    Jim Hagood ( from Natrona County WYO, via lots of other places since graduating from U W, and as an Alumni of the George Washington U law school(LL’M), and the U of Colo, degree in economics.
    I am not going to use the salutation like Frank of Dr(Doctor) on his BUZZ on the WWW.

    I never dished Frank on his strong views on selling the ranch, but then I don’t have a Foundation with
    over $ 300 million in liquid assets that can hire big Denver Law firms to advocate for his views, (via the Casper Branch of some large Denver Corporate law firm. As a footnote, it appears that “pottage” is a biblical frame of reference, used by Ex Governor Geringer, but I am not going to get deep into that in any comments. You all have access to googles, and mobile devices.(too)

    Jim Hagood

  17. Thanks for the explanation. If what you state is accurate, and I have no knowledge or reason to believe it is not, selling the Y Cross may have been the right thing to do for financial reasons. However, in my opinion it wasn’t the right thing to do in regard to either the donor’s (Ms. Davis) wishes or for the education or research purposes for which it was given to the UW and CSU Foundations. It still appears to me that trust was broken meaning that other potential donors either should not donate to either Foundation or should take extreme caution and have iron clad safe guards in doing so to insure that their wishes must be adhered to.

    Lon D. Lewis, BS 62 UW, DVM 67 & PhD 72 CSU & veterinary clinical sciences faculty 74-82 CSU

  18. I served on the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees from 1989 – 2001. Mr. Mendocino’s description of the University of Wyoming’s understanding in 1996 of the Y Cross Ranch gift is accurate. My family has ranched in Wyoming for over 100 years. The other trustees and I would not have supported acceptance of the gift had it not had the provisions which Mr. Mendicino detailed.

    Deborah Healy Hammons

  19. What has more value,a bucket of dirt or a dollar. I chose dirt and the foundation has chosen dollars over dirt. I say there has been a serious cooking of the books plus many other problems that we continue to search of, Sorry Rita but you are wrong

    Dr. John E Radosevich

  20. Frank- Thank you for publicly restating the facts surrounding UW’s history with the Y Cross and matters relating to the recent sale. As a UW graduate I am grateful for donors, like Ms. Davis, who have given so generously to our university. Ms. Davis’ gift is a legacy that will enrich the lives of countless students and, in turn, the quality of the communities in which they choose to live. As a former UW trustee as well as a former member of the UW Foundation Board of Directors, I have followed the saga of the Y Cross extensively for a number of years. I am satisfied that the parties involved acted with the utmost integrity in consummating the sale of this gift. Thank you for persevering in doing the right thing!

    Rita Meyer