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Reports on Wyoming State Government Activity

University of Wyoming to shutter Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion after legislative cuts

A meeting with people sitting in chairs.
Chris Clements
/
Wyoming Public Media
The University of Wyoming board of trustees meeting on May 9, 2024.

The University of Wyoming (UW) will close its Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

That decision comes after the legislature cut the office’s nearly $1.5 million of state funding earlier this year.

UW President Ed Seidel said some of the office’s essential duties, like support for religious accommodations and Americans with Disabilities Act coordination, will be reassigned to other departments.

Other programs, like the Wyoming Latina Youth Conference and Women in STEM activities, will now need private funding.

Seidel said in a statement that the closure is part of a “good-faith effort on the part of the university to respond to legislative action while maintaining essential services.”

Students, alumni and faculty gave passionate testimony against closing the office ahead of the vote.

“This has nothing to do with making people equal but rather is a form of discrimination in and of itself,” said law professor Lauren McLane, who spoke on her own behalf. “I'm concerned that that violates the Wyoming state constitution.”

McLane said that in light of Wyoming’s status as the Equality State, the closure was particularly concerning.

“We have a strong equality amendment, one of the strongest in the nation in terms of state constitutions,” she said. “I think there might be litigation on that point.”

Employees who work at the office of DEI will be reassigned, not fired.

Wyoming Public Radio is a licensee of the University of Wyoming, but its newsroom operates independently. 

This reporting was made possible by a grant from the Corporation For Public Broadcasting, supporting state government coverage in the state. Wyoming Public Media and Jackson Hole Community Radio are partnering to cover state issues both on air and online.

Chris Clements is a state government reporter and digital media specialist for Wyoming Public Media based in Laramie. He came to WPM from KSJD Radio in Cortez, Colorado, where he reported on Indigenous affairs, drought, and local politics in the Four Corners region. Before that, he graduated with a degree in English (Creative Writing) from Arizona State University. Chris's news stories have been featured on KUNC, NPR newscasts, and National Native News, among others.
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