In a decision that rankled officials of Wyoming's extractive industries, the University of Wyoming has cleared one of its law professors of allegations that his work with environmental groups amounted to misuse of university facilities.


University president Terry Roark said that Mark Squillace's work with Friends of the Bow, the Wyoming Outdoor Council and the Powder River Basin Resource Council had not run afoul of university regulations, which encourage faculty members to spend up to, but not more than, 20 percent of their time getting real-life experience in their field.


Matt Reedy, a timber industry official who filed a complaint against Squillace on May 16, disagreed: "This is not the last step for me," he told the Casper Star-Tribune. "I'm extremely upset the university is condoning this type of (environmental) activity, which is putting people in this state out of work." Friends of the Bow and the Wyoming Outdoor Council have successfully opposed timber sales in the state.


The controversy grew over the summer, with Frank Moore, a state representative and president of the Wyoming Wool Growers Association, asking for an expanded investigation of Squillace's activities as well as those of his superiors. That spurred the Wyoming Outdoor Council to jump into the fray. In a letter to Roark, Director Tom Throop wondered, "Does each faculty member ... strictly limit their time expended on behalf of industry to the 20 percent maximum in university policy?" Roark said that the university will try to clarify its rules on consulting.


Meanwhile, a weary Squillace pointed out that what has been obscured throughout the controversy is that he has continued to do his job. He was awarded the law school's Winston S. Howard chair two years ago on the basis of his teaching and research.


Squillace added that the controversy won't lessen his involvement in the environmental issues he's worked on since arriving at the university in 1984. "This (opposition) has been a long-term ongoing kind of problem for me and for the law school," he said. "Last summer Reedy organized a demonstration of the children of loggers outside the law school: kids carrying signs. Industry has shown an ability to put pressure on people in situations like me to force them to stop what they're doing. And the university's under an enormous amount of political pressure to act cautiously and not sound too supportive of me because there could be ramifications in terms of funding."


* Lisa Jones, HCN project writer