Wyoming Governor Calls for Academic Freedom in University System

January 28, 2008

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal issued a call for academic freedom in Wyoming’s public university system following the defeat of a portion of his budget increasing funding for the University of Wyoming’s Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources (RIENR). Some lawmakers expressed discomfort at the policies supported by RIENR. Some may have been upset, for example, over a RIENR report which was critical of Wyoming’s coal-bed methane industry. "The lines got blurred because we weren’t sure if we were being asked to fund the educational mission of the university or a public policy mission statement," said Senator Philip Nicholas, R-Laramie.

Freudenthal encouraged the UW trustees to foster a university culture where the free flow of ideas, even controversial ones, are encouraged. And he said people in Wyoming shouldn’t be surprised when UW faculty members express opinions that aren’t popular with every group or industry.

"The university should be a place for all of these ideas to come out," Freudenthal said. "It doesn’t mean I’m going to agree with them, but I think they’re entitled to articulate them."

The budgeting process is still in its early stages and RIENR could still receive full funding.

(Hat tip: Inside Higher Ed.)