- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 5, 2015

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) - The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees has submitted a two-year budget proposal that includes money to improve the college’s financial accounting system, recruit and retain faculty and staff and improve science and engineering facilities.

In addition, the university’s block grant request for the 2017-18 biennium seeks funding to match private contributions for energy and engineering programs, athletics and carbon engineering research.

The budget request approved Wednesday now goes to Gov. Matt Mead, who will present his state budget recommendations later this year to the Legislature for the two-year period beginning July 1, 2016.

“The bulk of the request reflects continued movement on projects already supported by state elected leaders, and we believe the other items are essential to maintain and enhance the quality of instruction, research and service provided by the university to the state,” trustees President Dave Palmerlee said in a statement.

On employee pay, trustees voted to request that any compensation increases granted to other state agencies be applied to UW employees as well. In addition, they are asking for $1 million annually to retain and recruit faculty and staff members. It is the same amount provided for that purpose in the 2015 supplemental budget.

“To date, the allotment of these retention increases has been highly successful in retaining the university’s best faculty,” UW President Dick McGinity says. “Having that tool will be critical for us as we move forward, especially if additional dollars for state employee compensation are not available.”

A combination of state appropriations and tuition increases funded average pay raises of 2.6 percent and 3.2 percent for UW employees the past two years.

In an effort to improve the way UW tracks and reports financial information, the trustees are seeking $2 million over the biennium in recurring dollars to staff a team of accountants and fiscal specialists. In addition, the budget request calls for $5 million as a start toward the cost of a new fiscal system, which could approach $15 million.

Funding for UW’s initiative to improve its sciences programs makes up a major portion of the university budget request. In addition to $4 million over the biennium in recurring funding for program improvements to UW’s foundational science programs, the budget request includes $70 million to build a new facility that will include state-of-the-art research centers. The state has already set aside $30 million for the initiative.

Funding being sought for other capital construction projects includes $4 million to continue renovating classrooms and $3 million for a study of a plan to replace residence halls and dining center and build a new campus parking facility.

The trustees also are asking for $23 million in one-time dollars to match private donations. Of that, $15 million would go to match research funds in unconventional oil and gas research, carbon engineering and endowments and operating funds in the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

An additional $2 million, one-time request would support research in converting Wyoming coal into value-added fuel and chemical products.

The proposed budget also seeks $5 million a year to match private contributions to UW athletics.

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