The University of Wyoming Board Of Trustees agreed Wednesday to ask the Wyoming Legislature to approve at least $19.35 million more for the 2019-2020 fiscal biennium than the school is currently set to receive.
In March, the Legislature approved $350.5 million in block grant funding for UW to spend during the 2019-2020 biennium.
As part of the new funding requests, administrators want $10 million in one-time state funding to create the President’s Endowed Scholarship endowment. That request is double what administrators initially planned to ask for a month ago.
President Laurie Nichols said the request was increased because trustees liked the idea and wanted to “build as strong of an endowment as possible.”
Administrators hope the scholarships will encourage more Wyoming high school graduates and community college transfer students to stay in Wyoming for their education.
An existing endowment, the Trustees’ Scholars Award fund, gives scholarships to about 100 top-performing incoming freshmen each year. The President’s Scholarship fund would help recruit students whose performance doesn’t qualify for the Trustees’ Scholars Award.
In July, Vice President for Budgeting and Fiscal Planning David Jewell said the scholarships would target those high school seniors “getting very strong and attractive scholarship offers from out of state.”
A $10 million appropriation from the state would require a private match with the UW Foundation to create a $20 million corpus.
Administrators want another $5 million — with another UW Foundation match — in one-time spending to boost programming in the College of Agriculture.
Trustees were told in July money can be used to add faculty chairs in forestry management and beef/sheep production. Administrators also expressed interest in funding more research in crop seed and production, rangeland management and animal health.
Expansion of the Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center and new majors are also possible uses of more College of Agriculture funding.
UW is also asking for the Legislature to establish a “pool of funds” in the block grant to support the Science Initiative, a 2014 state-mandated plan to upgrade the university’s outdated laboratories and improve science education.
UW now wants $1 million to be appropriated this biennium with annual increases of $1 million to boost programmatic funding.
The initial priorities for those Science Initiative funds would be the launch the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, expansion of the Tech Transfer office to expand patents and commercialize research, seed funding for a new construction management major, more federal grant expertise and improvement of cross-discipline research.
Administrators would also like $1 million more annually in programmatic support for student-athletes, $350,000 annually to fund the Natural Diversity Database and a one-time appropriation of $1 million to “solve water issues” at UW, according to the budget request.
The budget proposals would need approval during the Legislature’s 2019 general session.
Gov. Matt Mead is required to submit his overarching supplemental budget to the Legislative Service Office by Dec. 1.
As part of the Wednesday meeting, Trustees also approved a $150,000 contract to have Walker Consultants update the UW’s 2008 parking and transit master plan.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation is providing $135,000 of the funding for the study. The study is set to conclude in March and will take into account the proposed locations for new dormitories the legislative Task Force on UW Housing is expected to suggest this fall.
Administrators also suggested the trustees reduce tuition rates by 45 percent for online classes taken by non-resident graduate students. UW currently charges those students $780 per credit hour and is trying to become more competitive as enrollment among that demographic has shrunk 40 percent since fall 2013.