CHEYENNE - A measure that was going to require University of Wyoming deans to report to the Legislature was withdrawn Wednesday night. A similar measure in the Senate hadn't yet been discussed by press time.
The House measure was withdrawn because "it had some language that was too restrictive," said House Majority Floor Leader Kermit Brown, R-Laramie.
Throughout Wednesday, UW officials and faculty were watching the measures, which were amentments to the state budget bills, requiring college deans to meet twice a year with legislators to discuss concerns and ways to enhance the school’s educational mission.
The amendments go too far in having lawmakers approve school plans, the job of UW’s Board of Trustees, said Chris Boswell, UW’s lobbyist, who was sending lawmakers emails from the lobby of the House on Wednesday afternoon.
"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," a statement on UW's faculty listserv said, written by UW Director for Institutional Communications Chad Baldwin.
Boswell had been in contact with one sponsor of the Senate amendment, Senate Majority Floor Leader Phil Nicholas, R-Laramie, but didn’t expect the amendment to turn out like it did.
“We’ve had conversations on how to encourage greater interaction between legislative interim committees and college deans at UW,” he said, adding that if the last two or three sentences of the amendments were lopped off, the amendments could be fixed.
UW Veterinarian Studies professor Donal O’Toole worries the lawmakers may be trying to stomp on academic freedom.
“Just calling the deans in is sending, even for Wyoming, a not subtle message,” he said.
UW history professor Phil Roberts believes the amendment violates Wyoming’s Constitution, which dictates how UW is managed, he said.
UW President Dick McGinity has told legislators his predecessors had been sluggish in responding to requests from the Legislature and he hoped to do better.
Brown said another measure may be introduced in the House that would encourage increased communication between faculty and the Legislature, but it wouldn't dictate how the school was run.
Star-Tribune reporter Leah Todd contributed to this story.