The University of Wyoming says that leaders of the UW Board of Trustees, the UW Faculty Senate and the administration have reached an agreement on potential changes to the university regulations that outline how the university would respond to any future, significant reduction in its budget.

The changes drew concern from some faculty members at the university, who felt that the changes were a power grab which would enable the trustees to eliminate academic programs and discharge faculty.

The changes to regulations 6-41, 6-42, 6-43, 6-44 and 1-101 were initially scheduled to be discussed during the trustee’s May meeting, but after the UW Faculty Senate raised concerns the discussion was rescheduled until July.

UW says in a release that the leaders reached substantial agreement on revisions to the regulations regarding elimination of programs for non-budget reasons and the university’s overall decision-making process. The agreements were reached after a lengthy meeting with Trustee John McKinley and UW Professor Dr. Michael Barker, representing the Faculty Senate.

“The discussion was an excellent example of inclusive leadership, where Trustee McKinley represented the views of the board, and I represented the Faculty Senate’s perspective on its responsibility to the health and welfare of the faculty, staff, students and administration and the academic programs at UW,” says Barker, who just completed a term as Faculty Senate chair, in a statement. “All of us want UW to succeed and be a premier institution, and this meeting set a model for future effective shared governance as the board, the faculty, the staff and the administration strive for those goals.”

The university says the proposed regulations maintain the university’s commitment to faculty tenure, which it says none of the parties ever intended to jeopardize.

The proposed changes, UW says, were meant to address issues that arose from the university’s recent budget reduction. The changes were to update inconsistencies and inefficiencies in the decision-making process.

Regulation 6-42 would allow the administration and the trustees to address budget restrictions without needing to declare a “financial crisis” or “financial exigency.” The trustees would direct the president to prepare a budget reduction plan in the event of a significant drop in revenues which could potentially include administrator hiring freezes, consolidations of departments or units, staff and administrator terminations, elimination of staff, faculty and administrator vacancies, among others.

Regulation 6-41 would keep the option for the trustees to declare a “financial exigency,” in the event the university is confronted with an “imminent financial crisis which threatens the viability of the institution as a whole” and that can’t be alleviated by any other means besides terminating tenured faculty or extended term academic professionals. UW says termination of tenured faculty would be a last resort.

Regulation 1-101 outlines the process used to adopt university regulations, standard administrative policies and procedures. When new or revised policies are proposed, the Faculty Senate, Staff Senate and ASUW must be consulted.

The regulation changes will be discussed during the trustees’ meeting in July.

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