Wyoming's voters have a proposed Constitutional amendment to vote on this November. That amendment reads as follows:
The legislature shall provide by law for the management of the university, its lands and other property by a board of trustees, consisting of not less than seven members, to be appointed by the governor by and with the advice and consent of the senate, and the president of the university, and the superintendent of public instruction, as members ex officio, as such having the right to speak, but not to vote. The duties and powers of the trustees shall be prescribed by law. Not more than twenty percent (20%) of the appointed trustees may be nonresidents of the state, notwithstanding the provisions of Article 6, Section 15 of this Constitution.
The legislative note accompanying this proposal states as follows:
The adoption of this amendment would allow the governor to appoint nonresidents of the state to serve as University of Wyoming trustees. Not more than twenty percent (20%) of the appointed trustees may be nonresidents of the state. The governor would not be required to appoint any nonresident as a trustee. All appointments to the board of trustees are with the advice and consent of the Wyoming Senate.
The effect of this would be to allow, but not require, the Governor to have two non residents be Trustees. While it's an "allowance", not a requirement, the effect would undoubtedly be the addition of two non residents. Wyoming is out of compliance with the law on Trustees right now, as it's failed to observe the two party requirement that also exists, but I'm sure that the Governors would follow the allowance here.
There's been next to nothing said in this election season about this proposal at all, but the Tribune ran an article on this this past weekend which was very well done in which Joan Barrons interviewed Phil Roberts of the University of Wyoming at length. Roberts, a lawyer who is a history teacher, is against it, and so am I.
I feel the passage of this is inevitable, for reasons that fit into Wyoming psychology, but the bill shouldn't pass. It won't be a disaster if it does, but it fits right into the Wyoming mindset that we're a service for others and that the only ones who really do good are those who start here and then leave, or those who did well and come in. Perhaps all people are that way everywhere, but it's been a long time feature of the State to view things that way.
The concept of allowing people from out of state to be Trustees is that we can thereby allow those former Wyomingites who did well to come back and share that with us here. Well, their career paths are largely ones that feature leaving. That's fine, and their absolute right, but the University already exist in an environment in which the ability of those who have educations and stayed is a bit under threat, and to emphasize that leaving is the smart thing to do in this fashion isn't the wisest.
None of this is to say anything negative about our ex-patriots. A lot of them keep a strong connection the state their entire lives (some, of course, make a point of emphasizing that it is where they were "from", not where they are). More than a few of those people left because they had no other rational economic choice at the time. But in a state that has but one university, which belongs to the residents of the state, a large board like this would seem better served by residents of the state who have stayed and made their livelihoods here and therefore would seemingly be in better touch with what Wyoming needs.