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UW Trustees Approve Biennium Budget Request

August 27, 2009

The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees today (Thursday) approved a 2011-2012 budget request for submission to the governor in advance of the 2010 legislative session.

While the state's financial climate has changed dramatically during the last 12 months, UW's commitment to meeting its priorities remains unchanged, President Tom Buchanan said.

"We have made great progress in the last several years, thanks to the support of Gov. Freudenthal and the state legislature," he said. "With that foundation in place, we can continue to carry out our plans to build on our reputation for excellence and provide outstanding education to our students."

The request includes a plan to raise undergraduate tuition to support library acquisitions and instructional support, plus the use of federal Abandoned Mine Land Funds for the School of Energy Resources (SER) and a major carbon sequestration research and demonstration initiative. The detailed budget request can be found on the Web and click on "2009 board meetings."

The request sustains the 2009-10 biennial budget, less the budget reductions enacted in June at Gov. Freudenthal's request. It includes an explanation of a rationale for regular increases in resident undergraduate tuition and how that will connect with future funding requests from the legislature.

"Resident undergraduate tuition has remained unchanged for three years, but in light of budget reductions, a plan for consistent increases over time is an alternative that merits consideration," Buchanan said.

Revenue from increased tuition would be used exclusively for libraries and for instructional support. UW's Board of Trustees is expected to discuss tuition increases at its regular meetings later this fall. Buchanan noted that if UW receives American Recovery and Reinvestment Act State Fiscal Stabilization Funds, the beginning of any plan to increase tuition would be delayed until fall 2011.

UW's operating budget request includes only two requests - to continue brucellosis research efforts that were funded last year and take advantage of the available window to add two Wyoming Public Radio (WPR) broadcast facilities. UW is requesting $814,000 for the support and personnel necessary to develop a more effective vaccine and more reliable diagnostic test for brucellosis, a disease that affects both cattle and wildlife in the Greater Yellowstone Area.

One-time funding of $481,000 is requested for equipment to expand WPR coverage in the state. It includes $388,000 for a broadcast tower near Lingle that will serve several eastern Wyoming communities, and $93,000 to expand coverage in the Kaycee area.

UW energy-related initiatives are typically supported through AML funds. The UW request seeks to continue funding at $18.8 million for the biennium to support the SER. The school provides nationally competitive instruction, advances Wyoming's energy-related research and supports scientific and engineering outreach to energy industries, companies, community colleges and government agencies.

AML funds would also support a carbon sequestration major research and demonstration initiative through $30 million in one-time funding. Buchanan said this appropriation would leverage UW competitiveness for federal funds and financial and in-kind relations with industry partners.

An additional $666,000 in AML funds is requested to support the Wyoming Reclamation and Restoration Center (WRRC), an interdisciplinary program that develops, collects and disseminates scientifically-based information involving reclamation, rehabilitation and restoration of disturbed lands in Wyoming and the western United States. Much emphasis will be placed on expanding research about wildlife habitat, especially sage grouse habitat.

One-time AML funding of $985,000 for a research nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer to support energy research and education in chemistry, petroleum engineering, molecular biology and pharmacy is also requested. Buchanan said the NMR spectrometer is a powerful instrument that would bolster UW's research and educational competitiveness in these areas.

Additional funding to increase faculty and staff salaries and benefits is not anticipated, given the state's current economic environment. However, competitive salaries to attract and retain a high quality workforce remain a top priority. Consistent with all state agencies, UW's standard budget includes funding to sustain fiscal year 2010 salary levels with health insurance benefits.


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