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UW Decision On Biodiversity Institute Takes A Turn

Tennessee Watson

The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees delayed action on the future of the Biodiversity Institute. Its funding runs out at the end of December. The UW administration originally announced it would shut down the institute, and its science education and outreach efforts, and turn to a heavier focus on biodiversity research.

But following an outcry on campus and across Wyoming, the university may be reconsidering that decision. Ed Synakowski, UW Vice President for Research and Economic Development, presented a plan to the board that would incorporate key components of the institute's work into a new biodiversity initiative tentatively named the Berry Biodiversity Center.

The UW Board of Trustees heard public testimony on the proposed plan last week, and then followed a recommendation from UW President Laurie Nichols to delay action until their meeting in January.

The Biodiversity Institute's acting director, Gary Beauvais, said the delay in a decision is evidence of the process at work.

"There was a decision that had to be made," said Beauvais. "There was a plan put forward, but throughout that whole process there was structured information gathering and conversations with a lot of people involved, and right up to and including the trustees meeting when there were a lot of people involved and a lot of information passed back and forth."

Beauvais said while the uncertainty of the current moment is hard he's feeling hopeful.

Tennessee -- despite what the name might make you think -- was born and raised in the Northeast. She most recently called Vermont home. For the last 15 years she's been making radio -- as a youth radio educator, documentary producer, and now reporter. Her work has aired on Reveal, The Heart, LatinoUSA, Across Women's Lives from PRI, and American RadioWorks. One of her ongoing creative projects is co-producing Wage/Working (a jukebox-based oral history project about workers and income inequality). When she's not reporting, Tennessee likes to go on exploratory running adventures with her mutt Murray.
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