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Media win suit to learn UW finalists' names

Jan 24, 2013 - By Ben Neary and Mead Gruver, The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees must disclose the finalists for the university's next president after they get that short list of names from a search committee, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Albany County District Judge Jeffrey Donnell ordered the trustees to release the names, current employers and dates when each finalist is scheduled to visit the university. The list of the five or more finalists is due to trustees on or after Feb. 5.

Donnell's order came in a decision that sided with the Associated Press, Casper Star-Tribune and Wyoming Tribune Eagle, which sued to release the names.

The Ranger is Wyoming's senior Associated Press paper.

The decision favoring a public process was not final, however. The trustees might appeal to the Wyoming Supreme Court, board President Dave Bostrom said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Wyoming lawmakers are considering a bill that would specify that searches for UW president and the state's community colleges would be closed to the public.

"That bill would be effective on the date that it's passed and signed by the governor. Hopefully we can head this off," said Rep. Kermit Brown, R-Laramie and House majority floor leader.

Brown said many people in academia can't apply for new positions without the promise of confidentiality. He said they would face retaliation from their current employers if it were known they had tried to jump ship.

The two Wyoming newspapers and the global wire service sued last fall to open up a process that otherwise would be secret until the trustees announced their choice to lead the state's only public university.

Trustees argued that a closed search encourages more applicants, but the media outlets said it violated Wyoming's open record law and did not serve the interest of Wyoming citizens to have a clear view of the entire process.

Bruce Moats, the Cheyenne attorney who represented the newspapers and wire service, praised the decision.

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