Wright State Faculty Senate opens vote of no confidence in Board of Trustees

Photograph: Soham Parikh/The Guardian.

Wright State’s Faculty Senate is conducting a vote of no confidence in the University Board of Trustees.

Voting opened Monday and will last through March 22 at 5 p.m., according to the Faculty Senate’s webpage.

After voting, the Faculty Senate Office will provide the results to the Board of Trustees, Faculty Senate, and the Chancellor of the Ohio Department of Education, according to a Faculty Senate document.

During a Feb. 18 meeting, the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate reviewed a petition calling for a vote of no confidence in the Board of Trustees. The petition, which needed 50 signatures to pass, received 91 signatures of support, according to the document.

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“Therefore, the Faculty Senate Executive committee provides notice that a vote of no confidence/no confidence in the University Board of Trustees will be scheduled and go forward as described in the above policy,” the document says.

In the petition, faculty outlined eight points for having lost confidence in the Board of Trustees to govern Wright State University, including the following:

  • An ongoing financial crisis and budget cuts which “threaten the educational mission of the university”
  • The creation of the nonprofit Double Bowler Properties to expand its real estate footprint
  • The flow of money to and from affiliated entities including Wright State Research Institute (WSRI) and the Wright State Applied Research Corporation (WSARC)
  • A 2016 citation of a trustee for an ethics violation
  • Protecting Division I Athletics over education
  • A scandal surrounding the issuance of H-1B visas
  • A trustee advocating for hiring people with Associates degrees
  • Bargaining in “bad faith” with the faculty union

“This list of grievances speaks to a five-year pattern of behavior by the Board that has caused significant harm to the University,” the petition says.

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The vote is not a Faculty Senate motion and therefore cannot pass or fail, according to Faculty Senate President Travis Doom.

“Such a vote expresses a sentiment; it does not recommend a specific action in response that sentiment,” Doom said.

The Board of Trustees provided a rebuttal to the petition, saying that new policies have helped strengthened the university’s financial standing, that the creation of a university-affiliated entity to serve the university’s real estate transactions is “common practice,” that the university did not cloud the flow of money through WSRI or WSARC, that it did not protect Division I Athletics over education, that it paid a $1 million settlement for a non-prosecution agreement in regards to the H-1B visa investigation, that a trustee has the right to state his or her opinion, and that the board bargained in good faith with the faculty union.

The board acknowledged that a trustee was reprimanded for an ethics violation, that the issue was addressed and that it “does not remain an issue.”

“The board also became aware of poor or non-transparent practices in areas of governance and oversight that put the university at risk, and subsequently set in place a number of checks and balances to correct such issues going forward,” the rebuttal says.

Doom said the results of the faculty vote will be announced no sooner than March 25.

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