LARAMIE, Wyo. — University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols was appointed to her post in December 2015 and took office May 2016, becoming UW’s 26th — and first female — president.

Nichol’s performance as UW’s chief administrator will now be formally evaluated by the Board of Trustees, university leadership and the campus community, pursuant to the terms of her three-year contract.

“Previous presidents have been evaluated,” UW Spokesman Chad Baldwin said. “It’s usually a pretty standard provision in a presidential contract.”

For the first time, however, the university is paying an outside consultant to assist in that evaluation.

“At UW, we have not engaged third-party consultants in the past to participate in those — they were performed in-house,” Baldwin told the Laramie Boomerang. “And I think the board’s rationale in this particular case is presidential evaluations are typically pretty complex and involve a lot of internal resources to conduct. The choice to use the third party in this case allowed the preservation of internal resources, but it also provides a degree of neutrality and transparency.”

UW plans to bring in Steve Portch, retired former chancellor of the University of Georgia higher education system, to gather input and feedback throughout the course of two days in February. Portch will be paid $16,000 plus travel expenses.

“Because of the scope of the review, they have sought outside assistance in completing the evaluation,” Board President John MacPherson said.

Nichols’ contract — which stipulates an annual salary of $350,000 alongside other monetary perks — calls for a “comprehensive” evaluation after the president has served 18 months in office “which shall include input from students, faculty, staff and external university constituents.”

During the trustees’ meeting Jan. 18, Board Vice President Dave True said Portch will have dinner with Nichols then have intensive meetings on campus and with university stakeholders.

Portch is scheduled to hear from administrators and Faculty Senate, Staff Senate and student government leaders during a meeting Feb. 14. He will also host an open campus-wide meeting, to be streamed online, according to a UW news release, which adds that details of that open meeting will be released at a later date.

“(Portch) hopes to have all of that teed up to where he can provide a report back to this body by March,” True said. “And of course, the final step will be the literal evaluation.”

Nichols’ performance was also assessed following her first year in office.

“There was an earlier evaluation that the trustees did after 12 months and this is a follow-up pursuant to the terms of the contract,” MacPherson said. “We had a meeting and had a discussion and I don’t think it was ever reduced to any kind of written format.”


Information from: Laramie Boomerang, http://www.laramieboomerang.com