Ohio University’s Faculty Senate voted “no-confidence” in the current administration in a meeting on Monday.
“The lack of communication and lack of due process regarding pending termination of faculty in recent days provides no indication that the administration intends to put the academic mission first as it deals with a budget crisis that has been years in the making,” David Ridpath, an associate professor in sports administration said.
The university is not eliminating any programs or departments, Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth Sayrs said.
Students who are in programs that have lost faculty members will be able to finish their programs.
This vote came after OU President Duane Nellis and Sayrs addressed some recent employment concerns stemming from the current budget crisis.
Some professors have been told that their annual contract is not going to be renewed, and therefore not returning to teach at OU.
Sayrs, however, said no decisions have been made for whether or not to keep probationary tenure track professors and instructors. Sayrs said the chairs and directors of departments had warned professors of the possibility of not renewing contracts, but no decisions have been fully made.
Faculty Senators also believed that, despite multiple comments from Nellis about putting the “academic mission” first, there was no sign of that being true. Senators believed that getting rid of faculty before cutting administrative salaries did not reflect any idea of an “academic mission” being a priority.
Sayrs said any elimination of faculty will be done by the faculty handbook.
Senators were upset that there were considerations being made for cutting faculty instead of athletic programs and administrative salaries.
“If we instead, reduce salary, in particular set a maximum at 150,000 OU would reduce salary allocations by more than 22 million dollars,” Ted Wesler, associate professor of sociology said.
To address the issue of laying off 140 employees, Nellis explained the pause on firing faculty was only due to the pandemic concerns in March and did not believe that the pause would be in effect very long.
Other financial issues addressed included the hiring freeze OU has put on every department, the suspension of promotions and the suspension of operational spending.