West Virginia University faculty members will vote next week on resolutions to express no confidence in President Gordon Gee and call for a freeze in administrators’ proposed slash of nearly one-10th of the majors and 169 full-time faculty positions from WVU’s flagship campus.
Frankie Tack, a service associate professor and chair of WVU’s Faculty Senate, said Monday that the Senate received a petition with signatures from about 7 percent of the faculty, exceeding the minimum 5 percent required to call a university assembly. That body, composed of all full-time WVU faculty members (with certain exceptions), is broader than the Faculty Senate, which contains elected representatives.
“President E. Gordon Gee has mismanaged the university’s finances—while also refusing to accept responsibility for the current financial situation of the university—in the following ways,” the proposed no-confidence resolution reads, before listing items such as “irresponsibly claiming … that he would grow WVU’s enrollment to at least 40,000 by 2020 to justify expansion and spending hundreds of millions of
dollars on projects that would increase WVU’s debt load.”
WVU’s enrollment has instead declined 10 percent since 2015, far worse than the national average.
“The University Assembly of West Virginia University has no confidence in president E. Gordon Gee’s ability to responsibly, honestly and effectively lead, facilitate and participate in decision-making related to any institutional transformation or restructuring at this university,” the proposed resolution says.
In a statement Monday to Inside Higher Ed that was later issued as a news release, Gee said, “I want to be clear that West Virginia University is NOT dismantling higher education—but we ARE disrupting it. I have seen numerous stories and posts about how we are ‘gutting’ or ‘eviscerating’ our university. That is simply not factual. What IS factual is that we have majors that have low student enrollment and are not cost effective to operate. That is why we have made the recommendations for reduction or discontinuance.”
Tack said the University Assembly will meet at noon on Sept. 6. in the Canady Creative Arts Center’s Lyell B. Clay Theatre.