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UW has 439 county students

Nov 14, 2012 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

The state's only four-year university also employs 93 people in Fremont County.

University of Wyoming President Tom Buchanan visited Fremont County on Thursday to meet with local lawmakers before January's legislative session.

The group gathered at Svilar's Bar & Dining Room to discuss issues at UW that could affect residents of Fremont County, hundreds of whom have connections to the university.

"There are 439 Fremont County students at UW," Buchanan said. "We have 95 employees in the county ... between our extension office and Central Wyoming College."

The local employees make up $1.3 million of UW's payroll, and Buchanan said all but three of his Fremont County students receive financial aid that totals $3.5 million when combined.

"Our financial aid is solid," Buchanan said. "The average student gets 150 percent (of the cost) for tuition and fees with the Hathaway Scholarship and additional funds internal to the university."

The student body is expected to include 14,000 people by December -- a historic high according to Buchanan, who said retention rates also are rising at UW.

Budget cuts

Students and employees may feel the effect of potential budget cuts in the near future. Based on conversations with Gov. Matt Mead, Buchanan said a reduction in state funding seems inevitable, but he hopes Mead calls for less than the 8 percent cuts that have been discussed.

"That's a lot of money," Buchanan said. "A cut of that size, you can't make it without feeling it."

An 8 percent reduction would amount to a $15.7 million loss, which Buchanan said would affect staff numbers and course offerings at UW. Administrators are trying not to fill positions that have been vacated, but Buchanan estimated 80 to 125 of UW's 3,500 employees will lose their jobs if Mead asks for an 8 percent budget cut.

Though he recognizes the importance of extension offices to citizens throughout Wyoming, Buchanan said layoffs could affect residents who work at UW from Fremont County.

"No one is immune," Buchanan said. "We'll try our best to minimize the consequences, (but) I'm not in a position to promise any group we'll leave their favorite employees alone."

He said about half of the cut would come from UW's non-personnel budget, meaning that some class units on campus would be diminished.

"We'll try to minimize the impact to students," Buchanan said.

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