The Faculty Senate of Bluefield State University, a historically Black public university in West Virginia, voted no confidence in most of the institution’s administration, including President Robin Capehart, Executive Vice President and General Counsel Brent Benjamin, and the entire Board of Governors.
In the resolution, passed late last month, the Faculty Senate cited “numerous violations” of West Virginia state codes and higher education policy, as well as the elimination of faculty tenure, alleged assaults on academic freedom, the dissolution of BSU’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion—as well as of the Faculty Senate itself—and “the creation of an authoritarian and toxic work environment.”
“We wish for all faculty, students, and staff of all state colleges and universities in the Virginias, and around the nation, to be aware of this brazen and unlawful administrative assault on faculty, on tenure, on shared governance, on democratic processes, on institutional policies and procedures, and all of the rights and responsibilities of faculty,” a faculty representative wrote in a statement.
Charlie Cole, the chair of BSU’s Board of Governors, told the local Wheeling News-Register that the faculty’s claims are inaccurate and that the university never eliminated tenure. It did, however, institute a posttenure review process, which Cole said was the reason for faculty anger.
“Every three years, a tenured professor has to demonstrate that they are being the best professor they can be,” Cole said. “I don’t want to diminish their feelings, but we knew how they felt when we voted and we still voted to pass the changes.”
He added that the dissolution of the Faculty Senate was in order to establish a faculty assembly, composed not of elected members but of every faculty member.