LARAMIE (AP) — Robert Sternberg, the incoming president of the University of Wyoming, said an important part of his job will be to find other sources of revenue to help make up for cuts in state funding.
“I plan to spend a lot of my time fundraising,” Sternberg, who takes office on July 1, said.
The state Legislature this winter cut general fund spending because energy revenues are expected to be flat in the coming years.
UW’s operating budget was cut by about $11.7 million as a result.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Sternberg said most universities around the nation are seeing their budgets cut.
Sternberg said Oklahoma State University, where he is currently provost and senior vice president, saw its budget cut about 4 percent this year.
“I think we have very similar problems in Wyoming as what Oklahoma State has had; we’re both energy states, very dependent on energy, agriculture,” he said.
So far UW has responded by cutting non-faculty staff positions through attrition and not filling some vacant faculty positions.
In addition, it has decreased other expenses, such as reducing scholarship funds.
“It makes it more of a challenge to provide the highest quality possible educational experience, but I think the university is meeting that challenge,” Sternberg, who replaces retiring President Tom Buchanan, said.
But Sternberg said it’s important that universities work to find other sources of revenue to help make up for the budget cuts.
“We need to be thinking a lot more about entrepreneurial activities and philanthropy and to show people that giving to Wyoming is a great investment, that this university is just a really good place to invest in,” he said.
For example, UW could provide expertise in helping with an invention and then share in any profits that result, he said.
Sternberg said he plans to travel around the state soon after taking office to meet people and discuss the university’s mission.
As a land grant university, UW exists to serve the state, he said.
“The state supports the university, and an important question is to learn how the university best can serve the state and help its economic development as well as its social development,” he said.
Sternberg said it’s important that the university work with the K-12 education system to help ensure students are prepared for college.
“States that have higher percentages of college graduates generally have higher per capita income and greater investment from the outside,” he said. “So better preparing kids for college and for the jobs that they’ll take after college ought to be a top priority for any land grant institution.”