UPDATE 5/1/13 @ 11:46 a.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The votes are in, and the majority of the Faculty Senate at Marshall University said they have "no confidence" in University President Dr. Stephen Kopp.
Four hundred twenty faculty members took part in the vote. While 290 voted no confidence, 107 said they still supported the president and 23 people abstained from the vote. According to an estimate from Faculty Senate President Eldon Larsen, there were roughly 800 members eligible to vote.
Controversy has been brewing at the University for several weeks now. As a part of a budget overhaul, President Kopp ordered all money in department accounts be swept into a centralized account. That move did not sit well with faculty because they were not alerted ahead of time.
Kopp ordered the money returned and apologized, asking the staff to work together to move forward in difficult days of budget days that lie ahead.
In a statement Wednesday: Dr. Kopp said in part:
"I respect the views of the faculty who have shared their opinion in this fashion; however, the budget challenges we set out to address remain and I do not see additional public funding on the horizon. We have much work to do in the coming days and months to ensure Marshall continues its progress with even more limited public resources."
The President of the Marshall University Board of Governor's, Dr. Joseph B. Touma, released a statement Wednesday that reads in part:
"Dr. Kopp has succeeded in achieving the goals set by the Board of Governors for Marshall University and he has exceeded the board's performance expectations in numerous areas. The board also believes that he is the right person to keep our great university moving in the right direction."
The vote is symbolic.
The Marshall University Student Government released the following statement in reaction to the vote:
"While we as a student government recognize the vote by the faculty as well as understand and respect all opinions and concerns we believe that it is imperative that the focus of this university needs to be a unified effort in minimizing the effect that state budget cuts will have on student tuition increases, above all else. I applaud the Board of Governors for placing the students at the forefront of the discussion and appreciate the Administration's collaborative approach to solving these issues and look forward to helping in the solution to maintaining affordable education at Marshall University."
Marshall's Faculty Senate began conducting a nonbinding vote on Kopp starting April 24. The online voting is set to end Tuesday night.
Faculty Senate Chairman Eldon Larsen said Monday that roughly 800 faculty members are eligible to vote.
Larsen says the voting results will be sent to faculty members on Wednesday.
The vote was scheduled during an emergency meeting of the Faculty Senate on April 19, a day after the Marshall Board of Governors tabled a proposal by Kopp to overhaul the school's budget policies.
Kopp ordered the removal of nearly all revenue funds from department accounts into a central holding account. Kopp later apologized and had the money returned.
An emergency meeting, held Friday afternoon, gave faculty members a chance to air their grievances against Kopp and his administration. Many people are voicing concerns of mistrust and frustration after, earlier this month, Kopp swept the accounts of individuals departs into one central account, in the face of expected cuts in state funding.
The outcry came because faculty was told of the sweep after it happened.
Thursday, President Kopp, apologized and called the practice "ill-advised."
The electronic vote is slated to take place on May 1, 2013 and the results are non-binding.
"If I upset you, I apologize," said Kopp. "The action taken last Tuesday was ill-conceived on my part."
That apology comes in the wake of frustration and controversy, surrounding a budget reorganization plan, that angered many faculty and staff. On April 9, 2013, Kopp sent an email to university employees to let them know all revenue accounts had been swept, and put into one holding account for the university.
That action, has been perceived by many, as a lack of trust by the administration.
"The university's ability to move forward as a coherent unit has been damaged," said Dr. Dan Holbrook, who's chairman of the History Department. His concerns, voiced, to a packed house during the Board of Governor's meeting on Marshall's campus, Thursday afternoon.
"My question is, how do we start to rebuild trust, because I had it up until last Tuesday," said Psychology Professor, Pam Mulder. Her question was directed to Kopp, during a question and answer session, before the reorganization budget proposal was put before the Board of Governors for a vote."
"If it means postponing this until next year, to help heal and move forward," said Kopp, "I would ask the board to consider that."
The backlash of the past week, not lost on the packed house.
The Board of Governors voted, unanimously, to table the budget reorganization measure, until further, or an alternative plan is presented.
Professor Pam Mulder, hopes students, on campus, realize today's meeting was, indeed, democracy at work.
"I'm very pleased our voices have been heard" says Mulder. "You can fight city hall. We're all in this boat together. It's not a matter of fighting city hall, it's a matter of becoming city hall."
But Kopp says administrators need to get a handle on where resources are being spent.
The Associated Press reports that Kopp apologized Wednesday for the overnight removal of nearly all funds from department accounts last week. The move has been criticized by faculty who say they weren't notified.
Professor Dallas Brozik says the College of Business took a vote of no confidence against Kopp on Tuesday.
The Faculty Senate has scheduled an emergency meeting Friday to discuss the move, along with an administration proposal to overhaul the school's budget policies.
The Board of Governors will consider the budget overhaul plan on Thursday.
The proposal includes standardizing fees, centralizing institutional revenue and ending department-specific accounts.
The Board of Governors will consider the proposal on Thursday.
Marty Amerikaner, the board's faculty representative, tells The Associated Press that he doesn't believe the proposal is fully developed. He calls it a massive restructuring of the university's financial operations.
College of Fine Arts dean Don Van Horn says the intent is to create a more manageable budget model.
The Faculty Senate will hold an emergency meeting Friday to discuss what happens at Thursday's meeting.
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