The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees will interview three candidates for acting president during an executive session next week, according to a news release Friday morning.

The selected candidate will fill the position of President Laurie Nichols, whose contract ends July 1.

The trustees, without explanation, announced in March they would not renew Nichols' contract.

That decision caused students, faculty and staff to question the trustees and their lack of transparency about the matter. UW student body president Alex Mulhall says the announcement caused "a resounding shock among students."

Staff Senate president Renee Ballard and Faculty Senate chairman Donal O'Toole voiced praise for Nichols and expressed confusion at the decision.

Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr said "It smells of good ole boys politics."

Even so, the trustees announced the candidates are Chris Boswell, UW’s former vice president for governmental and community affairs from 2012 to 2018; Bill Mai, former vice president for finance and administration from 2013 to 2018; and Neil Theobald, current vice president for finance and administration since July.

The trustees meet for their regular meeting at the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, and then go into executive session -- per state law -- to interview them to consider the appointment of a public employee, according to the news release

Representatives of UW’s Faculty Senate and Staff Senate will be invited to attend the interviews.

“We are delighted to have three very strong candidates willing to serve the state and the university in this important leadership role at a key time in UW’s history,” Board of Trustees Chairman Dave True said.

“Our intent is to select an acting president who will, among other things, maintain the positive momentum of the university and lay the groundwork for a long-term president," True said.

Although the interviews of the candidates will not be open to the public, the board will accept suggestions about the selection. Those who wish to comment on the candidates should submit their suggestions here by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

After the interviews, the board is scheduled to deliberate in executive session Wednesday morning and Friday morning, if necessary.

The trustees will vote in a subsequent public meeting of the board to choose the acting president.

The board anticipates the acting president's term will be about one year or until it choose a long-term president.

The UW Board of Trustees has not discussed details of the search for a long-term president, but members have expressed support for an open, transparent search process that involves stakeholders across UW’s constituencies, including Wyoming citizens.

Search details will be discussed in future open meetings of the board.

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