Possible no-confidence vote in WSU president, board still months away

Wright State University president Cheryl Schrader sits next to faculty president Travis Doom during a faculty senate meeting at the school on Monday. Over the weekend and email began circulating calling for the senate to hold a vote of no confidence in Schrader.
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Wright State University president Cheryl Schrader sits next to faculty president Travis Doom during a faculty senate meeting at the school on Monday. Over the weekend and email began circulating calling for the senate to hold a vote of no confidence in Schrader.

If Wright State University’s faculty decides to hold a vote of no confidence for the school’s president or board of trustees it would likely be months away.

Wright State’s faculty senate on Monday voted against shortening the process that could eventually lead to a vote. Before a vote by the entire faculty takes place, the senate would be required to host at least two more meetings before scheduling a vote.

The issue of a no-confidence vote came up Sunday in an email that was circulated among faculty members. The email stated a “call for a vote of no confidence in President Cheryl Schrader” had been going around campus.

Morale among faculty “is as low as I’ve seen it,” said Travis Doom, faculty senate president, and that is likely the reason for discussion of a possible vote of no confidence.

WSU board of trustees chairman Doug Fecher released a statement Monday in response to the calls for a no-confidence vote. 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.”

There were 17 senate members who voted to hasten that process while 15 members voted against doing so during a Monday afternoon meeting. At least 22 members, a two-thirds majority of the senate, would have needed to vote in favor of shortening the process, Doom said.

» RELATED: Report: Wright State athletics wouldn’t save money by moving from Division I to D-II

Doom said he wasn’t surprised that the senate decided against shortening its process for a vote.

“I was not surprised by the split,” Doom said. “The senate tends to move more cautiously.”

The topic of a vote of no-confidence could still come up at the faculty senate’s Dec. 10 meeting though, Doom said. The senate’s executive committee on Dec. 3 will decide whether to add the issue to the full senate’s meeting.

» RELATED: WSU officials react to sale of two buildings, staff protest at trustees meeting

University trustees cut more than $30 million from the school’s fiscal year 2018 budget in June 2017 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.

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

The financial difficulties have led to sometimes tense contract negotiations between the administration and leaders of Wright State’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors. Disputes during contract talks have included the issues of workload, health care and compensation, among others.

The board of trustees reccently voted to accept a fact-finder’s proposed contract while the AAUP-WSU is urging its members to vote to reject the proposal. The union is voting on the fact-finder’s report through Wednesday, president Martin Kich has said.

Schrader, who attended the Monday senate meeting, did not directly comment on the possible confidence vote in her remarks. But, talk of a vote of no confidence is familiar territory for Wright State’s leader.

At her previous school, the Missouri University of Science and Technology, Schrader faced rumblings of a no-confidence vote among faculty. She acknowledged the turmoil in an interview last year with the Dayton Daily News and said it was a byproduct of a restructuring that was much needed.

“A chancellor or president who is effective, has to make difficult decisions for the good of the university,” Schrader said at the time. “There will be people who don’t always agree with those decisions.”

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