The Ohio University Faculty Senate voted 44-11 Monday to approve a vote of no confidence in Ohio University and former University of Idaho President Duane Nellis, according to the Athens News in Ohio.
The newspaper reported the faculty Senate accused Nellis, who served as the University of Idaho president from 2009-2013, and Ohio University Vice President for Finance Deborah Shaffer of leading the university to a budget crisis, made much worse by the coronavirus pandemic.
Ohio University had already faced a significant budget shortfall because of declining enrollment over the past few years, the Athens News reported. As of March, Nellis said OU’s academic colleges would need to make $26 million in cuts over the next three years and administrative units would need to make $8 million in cuts — the timeline on the administrative cuts was unclear.
The nonbinding no-confidence resolution vote was authored by Julie White, professor of political science, and David Ridpath, associate professor of sports administration.
White said a petition recommending the no-confidence vote was signed by almost 200 OU faculty members Monday. The petition had more than 520 signatures as of Wednesday morning. White charged during the meeting that OU has suffered from budget mismanagement “for a very long time.”
“If we really are in a dire situation, it really is time to look at new models for a new normal in the university,” she said, adding that OU has not adequately involved faculty in recent budgeting decisions. “We need a much flatter structure of administration.”
OU Trustee Chair David Scholl said in a statement Monday night that the Board of Trustees stands “firmly behind” Nellis and Shaffer, the Athens News reported.
OU Provost Elizabeth Sayrs and Nellis both said that on top of themselves taking a voluntary 15-percent pay cut, all senior-level provost staff have been asked to take a voluntary 10-percent pay cut. Nellis’ base salary is $489,357 per year.
Meanwhile, all administrative units are looking at cutting 20 percent of their budgets, Nellis said, including OU’s athletics department. He said the university is looking at serious budget cuts and the “layers of management” built up over the years need to be reduced.