Trustee president supports WSU president as ‘no confidence’ talk continues among some faculty

Cheryl Schrader speaks at Wright State University.
Caption
Cheryl Schrader speaks at Wright State University.

UPDATE @ 2:42 p.m.

The chairman of the Wright State University board of trustees has released a statement in response to an email that circulated this weekend calling for a vote of no confidence on president Cheryl Schrader.

Doug Fecher said that Schrader’s “primary focus” has been on “financial recovery and long-term fiscal sustainability.” He commended Schrader on the “difficult choices” she had to make in the first year or so of her presidency.

“While she has only been on the job for little over a year the university has produced the first operating surplus in many years and has instilled strong budget controls and accountability that will serve the university well into the future,” Fecher said in a prepared statement. “She’s had to make tough choices to facilitate a financial recovery and I’m certain she will continue to make the difficult choices necessary for Wright State to prosper and excel.”

Members of the WSU faculty senate are meeting right now and they plan to discuss the email during their meeting in room 156 of the student union.

INITIAL REPORT

An email circulated Sunday among Wright State University (WSU) faculty Senate members seeks feedback on the possibility of holding a vote of “no confidence” in Cheryl Schrader, the university’s president.

“As many of you are aware, there is currently a call being circulated across campus to initiate a vote of no confidence in President Schrader,” says the email from Sarah McGinley, a senior lecturer in Wright State’s English Department.

“I’ve heard from many of you already, and would like to hear from as many of you as possible before tomorrow’s Senate meeting so that I have a fullest possible sense of the constituency’s opinion,” McGinley said in the email, which was sent Sunday morning. “I take my role and this call extremely seriously, so I am writing to seek your feedback.”

The email comes as Wright State’s faculty union and administration have engaged in contract talks over compensation, health care benefits, workload and more.

University trustees cut more than $30 million from the school’s fiscal year 2018 budget last year in an attempt to begin correcting years of overspending. Those cuts ended up not being enough, and by the close of fiscal year 2018, Wright State had reduced spending by around $53 million.

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In June, trustees approved a fiscal year 2019 budget that predicted another $10 million decline in revenue.

Reached Sunday, Martin Kich, president of the Wright State chapter of the American Association of University Professors, made a distinction between the faculty Senate and the union he leads. But he said such a vote could have an impact on contract talks nevertheless.

A vote of “no confidence” could signify that the administration and trustees “have to adjust the positions that they have been taking,” Kich said.

“There is a linkage there in terms on what’s going on,” he said.

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“If there is a vote of no-confidence it would seem to send a strong message that the administration and the board should sit down and engage in fair bargaining,” he added.

Kich said he expects union voting on a recently issued fact-finding report will conclude Wednesday at 5 p.m. He wasn’t sure when the vote tally will be announced, but he expects members to reject the report.

The report — which came after more than a year of contract negotiations — calls for the faculty to get no raises, could require union members to pay more for health care, recommends the use of furloughs and rejects the idea of downsizing or eliminating Wright State’s athletics department, among other conclusions.

“At this point, we know we’re going to take a financial hit on this contract,” Kich also said Sunday.

But the university has spent far too much on non-academic matters, he argued.

“What we’re saying is, the academic mission has to be a priority,” Kich said. “It should be the first priority, a major priority.”

Kich wasn’t certain Sunday when contract negotiations will resume. A Wright State spokesman declined to comment Sunday.

Faculty senate president Travis Doom on Monday said it’s “unusual” for a campaign, like the one pushed for in the email, to begin over a weekend. The faculty senate will meet at 2:30 p.m. today in room 156 of the student union.

“This was certainly unexpected,” Doom said. “There was no discussion about this as regular business.”

McGinley’s email outlines dual procedures to approach a possible vote of “confidence” or “no confidence” in an administrator.

In one, faculty senators can introduce two motions to suspend the operating rules of the body to call for a special faculty meeting for the vote, the email said. That approach requires the support of two-thirds of the senators present.

In another, any full-time faculty member can initiate a petition for such a vote, with the requirement to submit this petition with 10 percent of full-time faculty members signatures’ to the faculty office for verification.

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