UW Receives Strong Support in 2023 Legislative Session

Views of the stands at War Memorial Stadium for the Stripe Out game against Montana State on...
Views of the stands at War Memorial Stadium for the Stripe Out game against Montana State on Sept. 4, 2021.(Kyle Spradley | Kyle Spradley)
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 3:34 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (RELEASE) - The University of Wyoming will receive $120 million to complete long-planned construction projects, and many UW employees will receive pay raises, as a result of action by the Wyoming State Legislature.

As part of the supplemental budget approved during the 2023 general session, several initiatives at the heart of UW’s land-grant mission also will receive additional one-time and ongoing funding.

“We deeply appreciate the remarkable show of support from the governor and legislators for Wyoming’s university, in line with our emphasis on people and programs,” President Ed Seidel says. “The supplemental budget and capital construction bills will make it possible to advance some key initiatives; bring more of our employee salaries and wages closer to market averages; and complete major construction projects that have been impacted by inflationary pressures.”

The supplemental budget includes an annual increase of $12.27 million for staff and faculty raises, on top of $8 million approved during the 2022 budget session that provided the first broad-based raise for UW employees since the 2018-19 fiscal year. UW leaders have not finalized the allocation model, but increasing pay for staff, especially entry-level and positions at the low end of the pay scale, will be a top priority. This second round of raises will take effect in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Legislators and Gov. Mark Gordon also supported a number of UW’s funding priorities for ongoing initiatives, including annual increases of $5.5 million for Tier-1 Engineering Initiative programming and $3.6 million for Science Initiative programming.

One-time appropriations include $5 million for UW’s Advanced Research Computing Center; $2.5 million in endowment matching funds for chairs, professorships and programs in the College of Agriculture, Life Sciences and Natural Resources; and $1.5 million in endowment matching funds for the School of Energy Resources (SER).

The Legislature and the governor continue to strongly support SER research, with one-time appropriations of $14.75 million to continue developing new, nonenergy uses for the state’s coal through the state-sponsored carbon engineering program -- and $300,000 specifically to analyze the feasibility of producing high-grade graphite from coal.

Over a number of years, state leaders have provided authorization and partial funding for three major construction projects: new residence halls and a dining facility; renovation of War Memorial Stadium’s west-side stands; and construction of a new competition facility for UW’s swimming and diving teams. The $120 million legislative appropriation in the state’s capital construction budget will make it possible for those UW projects to be completed in spite of cost increases due to inflation, with precise construction timelines to be determined.

An additional $12 million will allow for completion of unfinished space in the university’s new Science Initiative Building, specifically for the Student Collaborative Research, Outreach and Learning Lab, the Model Organism Research Facility and highly flexible lab research space.

Other legislative appropriations approved during the 2023 session include:

-- $5 million for major maintenance projects.

-- An inflation adjustment of up to $2.7 million for utilities.

-- One-time funding of $2 million to convert LiDAR data collected by the U.S. Geological Survey’s 3D elevation program and then host that data.

-- A $1.6 million annual, ongoing increase for UW’s Agriculture Research and Extension Centers due to inflation.

-- Up to $860,000 to help recruit and retain pathologists and other critical positions in UW’s Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory.

The supplemental budget also includes $7.5 million for the College of Health Sciences to plan, develop and sustain an accredited physician assistant training program. As a result of that funding, the university will initiate a process to study the multiyear development of such a program, the creation of which would require approval by UW’s Board of Trustees.