Bill Mai and Chris Boswell, two former administrators who retired from the University of Wyoming in 2018, are returning to the school on 12-month agreements to help as the board of trustees convene a search for a permanent president.
Both Boswell and Mai were among three finalists for the interim presidency before the trustees selected Neil Theobald, vice president for finance and administration, to serve as president for the next year.
Former UW President Laurie Nichols left the university last week after her three-year contract expired.
Mai was Theobald’s predecessor, serving as vice president for administration from 2013-2018 and Boswell was vice president for governmental and community affairs from 2012-2018.
They’ll both return to their former roles for the next year, albeit in a slightly more limited capacity, beginning Monday.
For the next year, Mai will oversee the Division of Administration with the exception of the Office of Financial Affairs. That office will continue reporting directly to Theobald through Associate Vice President for Budgeting and Institutional Planning David Jewell.
Theobald told the Laramie Boomerang in an email that Mai will oversee the construction of the Science Initiative building, the development of the master plan, planning for the more than $300 million of new dormitories slated for construction, and replacing UW’s retiring human resources director, Jeanne Durr. Durr is retiring at the end of July.
Theobald joined the university in July 2018 and said Mai and Boswell bring valuable experience to this interim administration.
“Higher ed is a people business,” he said. “Both Bill and Chris are very smart, have lots of experience and demonstrate great judgment.”
Both men have extensive experience working in high-level state government positions, and Mai is currently a member of the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group, which forecasts state government revenue and earnings.
Mai has worked as an economic adviser to Gov. Matt Mead, legislative analyst, manager of the Legislative Service Office’s budget division, and administrator of the Economic Analysis Division of the Wyoming Department of Administration and Information.
A former journalist, Boswell has been the director of the Department of Administration and Information, legislative liaison for Gov. Matt Mead, and chief of staff during the eight-year administration of Gov. Dave Freudenthal.
Boswell’s experience will be especially useful for the role of “interim vice president for community affairs,” Theobald said.
“I have been working with the UW for over 30 years, but my personal interactions across the state of Wyoming have been episodic,” Theobald said. “Chris brings a deep understanding of communities across our state and will help the UW better serve the state. Not everyone can come to Laramie. We need to (provide) educational opportunities, through partnerships with the community colleges and distance learning, to the state’s citizens where they live and work.”
A press release issued Wednesday indicates that Boswell “will provide policy perspectives and assistance to the president on issues of relevance to the university.”
Boswell, also a former member of the Wyoming House of Representatives, served as UW’s chief lobbyist in the Legislature during his original stint as a university administrator.
Meredith Asay, now UW’s director of governmental relations, has since taken over that role.
Boswell said that Asay is still “definitely very much in charge of governmental relations.”
He said Theobald and Asay should discuss whether they want him to handle any role in the Legislature.
Both Mai and Boswell told the Boomerang that, after Theobald was appointed to be interim president, he approached them about the possibility of working during the interim.
Both men said that they fully expect to leave the university again at the end of their one-year contracts.
“My role is still a work in progress, but I’ll do whatever I can whenever I’m asked,” Boswell said. “It’s very specific in my agreement that this is a temporary appointment, and that’s what I’m anticipating doing. I hate to say it but I really enjoy retirement.”
After Theobald took over as vice president for administration, Mai said the two had been in frequent contact “when I transitioned out and he transitioned in.”
“We spent a couple weeks getting the lay of the land established, and then we’ve been in contact about once a month throughout the course of the last year,” Mai said. “When he called (to offer a job), I thought he probably just had a couple of additional questions. But instead, he said he felt like he needed some help because he was going to have to take on a whole set of additional duties (as interim president).”
Mai said he has no expectation of returning permanently to UW, in part because Theobald’s made clear that he “fully expects to go back to the VP duties once a president is hired.”
UW spokesman Chad Baldwin said that the two men’s “compensation is a matter that will come before the Board of Trustees at their July meeting” and he was not able to tell the Boomerang how much they will be paid.