Monday, August 17, 2009

Letter in Today's Casper paper


Recently the University of Wyoming president’s outbox has been graced with the news that the Geology Museum will be reopening, part-time and hamstrung, Aug. 24. To many geology or paleontology enthusiasts or those bringing children up in Wyoming, this may be perceived as a desirable response to the myriad petitions, letters to the editor and blog posts decrying the misappropriation of Tom Buchanan’s heavy ax.

This should not be revered as a victory; rather, it is a dire insult. The partial reopening is a direct result of the public response to the Geo Museum’s closure, with funding from the private sources of the UW Foundation, beefed up by donations of protesters putting their money where their mouth is. But this grand reopening will be missing one vital ingredient: curator Brent Breithaupt.

Breithaupt was a year and a half away from early retirement, making this a notable portion of Buchanan’s intended budget savings. Whether this is a consequence of personal vendetta or simply the unfeeling disregard for a contract, other UW employees should be up in arms about the poor treatment of their colleagues. Excepting those with tenure, outrage should follow the simple fact that the rusted scissors of Atropos’ ugly twin sister, the UW Board of Trustees, may find them next.

The cutting of the museum from the UW budget is indicative of a potentially systemic disregard for the inspiration of developing generations. We know the Jackson retreat where the budget cuts were hatched was contracted and nonrefundable; what the administration’s retort fails to acknowledge is that curtailing the administration’s mindset that produces these costs would save vastly more money than closing the museum.

Some advice to those who may still wield some leverage: for graduates of Wyoming high schools, think twice before falling back on UW; at second consideration, you may just manage to make it to the school of your dreams. Wealthy alums that feel indebted to give back to the good ol’ U of Wyo; hold onto it. Tell the tele-representative you’d like to see some changes in the administrative direction this place is taking and be specific. If it is by mail you send your potential contribution, replace the check with a heartfelt essay explaining the amount your envelope would contain if only certain changes were made.


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