CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A resolution by the University of Wyoming Faculty Senate hasn't swayed school administrators from their plan to sell a southeast Wyoming ranch the UW Foundation jointly owns with its counterpart at Colorado State University.
The resolution, which passed 33-16 last week, calls for the sale to be delayed five years. UW would use the hiatus to promote the Y Cross Ranch to faculty, staff and students for use in the manner that the donor of the vast property intended.
After five years, an advisory committee would be established to make a formal public recommendation on whether or not to sell the Y Cross, according to the resolution.
"Certainly the president takes a look at resolutions that come from the faculty senate," UW spokesman Chad Baldwin said Monday. "But I have no indication that there's going to be any departure."
Denver philanthropist Amy Davis, who donated her family's ranch to the two foundations in 1997, sued the two foundations last month in state district court in Cheyenne. She alleged they haven't fully honored her intent for the ranch to be used for hands-on agriculture education.
The university foundations had planned to sell the ranch this November but announced Oct. 19 they would wait until the lawsuit is resolved.
Meanwhile, foundation and university officials have maintained that selling the ranch would honor Davis' intent by funding scholarships in agriculture education. That position hasn't changed, said Baldwin.
Colorado State spokesman Mike Hooker said Monday that CSU officials were aware of the UW Faculty Senate vote. He declined to comment further.
Faculty senate resolutions are nonbinding, but the vote was an unusual rift between professors and a UW Foundation that has raised record donations for an unprecedented building boom at the Laramie campus over the past decade.
The Y Cross resolution came from veterinary science professor Donal O'Toole, who has been at UW since 1990 and was department head from 2003 to 2007. Only this year did he fully appreciate that he could take his students to the Y Cross for in-the-field experience, O'Toole said.
"It's not an oil well. It's not a strip mine. It was intended to break even, generate some internship money, but above all else to be used as a teaching resource. And that's what's being lost here, is the university seemingly decided we won't let the faculty use this as a teaching resource," he said Monday.
He "kicked himself," he said, when he realized how many interns could have benefited from teaching at the Y Cross over the years.
The Y Cross covers some 50,000 acres of pastures, meadows, forests streams and granite outcrops just north of the Pole Mountain section of Medicine Bow National Forest between Cheyenne and Laramie. A Nature Conservancy conservation easement generally protects the ranch from further development.
"This is a big ranch, and if these kids are going to be employed, they are going to be employed as ranch managers on these larger ranchers," O'Toole said. "This is the kind of ranch they'll end up managing."
Some 750 cow-calf pairs grazed on the ranch this year.