Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Letter: Why Wait?

We are still waiting to hear from the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees to explain why the Geology Museum was summarily closed (part-time opening is not the answer.) Here are some points to consider:

1. Although "necessary budget cuts" was given as the reason for the closure, that is obviously not the case because offers from private parties to pay Brent Breithaupt's salary and to help with expenses at the museum were bluntly refused, with no explanation.

2. In the face of considerable public outcry and offers of financial help, according to an Associated Press article in last Sunday's Boomerang, UW President Buchanan, again bluntly stated that "--- Breithaupt isn't being hired back." Why, of the 45 positions eliminated, is only Breithaupt's being singled out for special comment?

3. It becomes increasingly obvious that this is a personal vendetta against the museum, its director, or the geology department itself.

4. This closure, along with other budget cuts, was done in an arrogant manner. Credit cards kept by staff members were cancelled without notice--- causing both embarrassment and financial hardship to all of those whose positions were cancelled. Why? Surely there was time to give at least a short notice of the closures.

5. This treatment of UW personnel will surely make it difficult to attract talented people in the future.

6. Obviously hard work was necessary on the part of the Board of Trustees to cut the budget of an entire universioty in the face of today's economy, but there is a vast difference between down sizing a department or service and closing a museum that is widely recognized for its excellence. The geology museum is an icon not only for UW, but for the city of Laramie and the state of Wyoming, displaying our unique, rich heritage of geology and paleontology. Closing it seems counterproductive, antagonizing both alumni and disappointed visitors, and this closure will have a significant effect on the economy of Laramie and the state. Seeing dinosaurs are (sic) at the top of many visitors' agendas when they visit Wyoming.

7. The University of Wyoming belongs to the people of Wyoming--- not the Board of Trustees. This board owes the people of the state an open accounting of their actions, which has not been forthcoming in this case. Is this board becoming too political? Perhaps the members of this board of trustees should be on our ballots, chosen by popular vote instead of being appointed by the governor.

8. Bottom line--- someone in the University hierarchy has accumulated enough power to force the decision to close the Geology Museum on the people of Wyoming without explanation--- this is unacceptable.

Amy M. Lawrence
UW graduate, BA Journalism, MA Historical Preservation

This letter was printed in today's Laramie Boomerang. We need more. Consider these points and hold leaders to task for a poor decision still unecxplained to the people who live in Wyoming and pay their taxes, and those who pay tuition to attend the University. Write the Board of Trustees, state and local political leaders, President Tom Buchanan, and newspaper editors. Friends of the SH Knight Geological Museum can provide contact lists. E-mail us at dinos82071@gmail.com

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