March 24, 2015; WyoFile

“We note and call to your attention the dearth of women and minorities on the University of Wyoming’s Board of Trustees, in particular. Likewise, women and minorities are too absent from highly visible boards and task forces currently shaping UW’s future, including the Engineering Task Force and the SER’s Energy Resources Council. Women comprise about half of the Equality State’s population and own over a quarter of its business firms, according to Census data. Furthermore, women make up 54 percent of the UW student body. There is no legitimate reason for women or minorities to be so rarely appointed to these prominent state boards, and we call on you to redress this inequity.”

So reads an online petition to Wyoming’s Republican governor Matt Mead, launched five months ago and signed by more than 450 people. For all the good that did them, that is, because in appointing five new members to the UW board of trustees this month, the gender imbalance of 2–10 was maintained.

Maggi Murdock, a professor in the Political Science department and associate provost for Academic Affairs, wrote in an open message to the faculty email list, “Does it bother anyone else that the governor had five vacancies to fill on the UW Board of Trustees (42% of the total seats), and he managed to find only one [woman] in the entire state of Wyoming qualified to serve?”

After posting that message, Murdock said she was contacted by members of the governor’s staff, explaining that several women were approached about the position but declined the offer or were ineligible due to party registration.

Meanwhile, life goes on. “I know many faculty, including myself, are upset at the lack of diversity on the Board of Trustees, particularly in regards to sex,” Faculty Senate President Edward Janak writes. “However, considering the constraints that Governor Mead was facing and the fact that he had well over 100 appointments to make (for other boards), I think the folks he chose will do admirably well, and I’d like to start their term on a positive note.”—Ruth McCambridge