The following is the letter from the chair that appeared in the Spring 2009 edition of Psychology Now
Letter from the Chair
Everywhere you look there are signs of economic downturn. You may have friends or relatives who were laid off or perhaps you have been "downsized" yourself. People are losing their homes. Local businesses are shutting their doors. Major national chains are going under. Many people have lost any discretionary income and those fortunate enough to have money to spend are being cautious.
You may have heard that Wyoming is one of just four states that are not currently operating in a deficit. In many ways, Wyoming has been protected from the economic downturn. Lenders in our state did not jump on the cheap mortgage bandwagon, so we are not experiencing the wave of foreclosures that is sweeping the nation. Our employment levels remain relatively high due in large part to the mining and extraction industries. Workers are moving in from around the country to take jobs here.
Unfortunately there are signs that Wyoming may be headed for rocky times ahead. Historically, our "boom and bust" economy has been resilient during the early phases of national recessions, but slides down later and remains down longer than other states. The governor and state legislators are beginning to worry that the state may once again be on this path. Natural gas prices have plummeted and oil prices are down from their highs last summer. This is great news for us individually as we pay home heating bills and fill up at the gas pump, but these commodities fund the State of Wyoming and the State funds the University of Wyoming.
In light of these early warning signs of reduced income in state revenues, the Governor has asked the University of Wyoming to prepare a budget with 5% cuts and another budget with 10% cuts. It's not entirely clear what these cuts will mean to the Department of Psychology. First and foremost, we know that we will not be able to hire new faculty in the foreseeable future, leaving us short-handed for covering our teaching needs. Also, like many of you, our investment accounts have taken a nose-dive in the stock market. Although we are pleased that we are able to fund our first Pasewark Scholar this semester, we do not know when we will have enough money in this account to fund another graduate student with this award.
So here is what I am requesting. If you or your family are suffering foreclosure, job loss, are worried about an impending lay off, or are having difficulty making ends meet, please skip your annual contribution to the Psychology Department or the University of Wyoming. And please know that our thoughts will be with you during these difficult times. But if you are riding out this recession in pretty good shape, consider making a contribution to the Department of Psychology. Your contributions allow us to upgrade technology in our classrooms, fund our graduation ceremony and reception, and provide scholarship awards to outstanding students.
As always, we want to hear your news so that we can pass it along. Perhaps you got a new job, got married, or had a child. Your professors, classmates and friends w1ould love to hear about the exciting developments in your life. You can send your updates to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Carolyn Pepper
Professor and Chair