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Wed April 28, 2010
Documents give behind the scenes look at UW's decision on Ayers
By Molly Messick
Laramie, WY – Radical activist turned academic William Ayers is scheduled to speak on the University of Wyoming campus tonight, after a court order yesterday. As that's happening, newly released documents provide more information about the decision to cancel Ayers' first scheduled visit to the UW campus.
The University of Wyoming released more than 2000 pages of correspondence. That's based on public records requests from Wyoming Public Radio and others. A review of those documents sheds some light on discussions that took place before Ayers' first scheduled visit to the university was canceled on March 30th. On Sunday March 28th, Francisco Rios, the UW professor who invited Ayers to campus, wrote to University President Tom Buchanan and Vice President for Academic Affairs Myron Allen to say he still believed Ayers' visit was important. But he said he would cancel if Buchanan and Allen quote "say the word" unquote. That evening, Buchanan instructed UW's Director of Government Relations to draft an e-mail canceling Ayers' appearance.
Governor Dave Freudenthal was also involved in discussions around the decision to cancel Ayers' visit. An email from the governor's chief of staff, Chris Boswell, sent to University President Buchanan and others on March 29th says the governor would quote "strongly support the UW administration pulling the plug on Ayers." End quote. That email also says the governor could personally call for rescinding the invitation, if President Buchanan preferred.
Also of note in the released material is an email from University of Wyoming Foundation President Ben Blalock. In it, Blalock tells Buchanan and others that UW donors John and Mari Ann Martin were considering not funding a 2 million dollar commitment if the university went through with bringing Ayers to campus. The email says that would mean a four million dollar loss to the university, because of matching money.
A review of all documents produced by the university revealed no direct threats of violence to Ayers or university administrators, though it does show plans for significant security around Ayers' appearance. Security concerns were cited as a primary reason for canceling the visit.