Wright State Faculty No Confidence Vote: What It Means
Ohio Higher Education officials will review the results a faculty no-confidence vote against Wright State’s Board of Trustees. On Monday, members of Wright State’s faculty approved the no-confidence action by a wide margin. The vote is an appeal for assistance by the faculty to the governor’s office.
More than half of Wright State’s faculty members weighed in, with 87 percent voting no confidence in the Board of Trustees.
No-confidence votes are largely symbolic, according to Sean McKinniss, a researcher who specializes in university governance.
“What they're saying is we no longer trust and respect our leadership. We don't think that they are taking us in the right direction,” he says.
In a petition calling for the vote, faculty members accused the board of financial mismanagement, among other things.
In response, the board noted measures the university has taken to balance Wright State's budget.
It’s becoming more common for university faculty around the country to initiate no-confidence votes.
What makes Wright State’s vote unusual is that it’s aimed at the Board of Trustees, not the university president, says McKinniss.
He says that means the state government could become involved.
"Ultimately, once you vote no confidence in the board, you're essentially at your last resort," he says, "because the only other people that can help you are the political leadership of your state."
The Faculty Senate sent the results of the vote to the governor’s office and to the Ohio Department of Higher Education, the two bodies that oversee the Wright State University Board of Trustees.
Travis Doom, President of Wright State’s Faculty Senate, says the faculty have no power to force the governor to act.
“Nor indeed have they recommended action. They are simply pointing out that they are concerned, and then asking essentially the governor to look into the issue in more detail," he says.
The no-confidence vote comes around six weeks after a 20-day-long faculty union strike.
The faculty union and the Faculty Senate are two separate entities, although the Senate does include some union members.
A spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Higher Education says it will review results of the vote but, “it’s too early to say what any long-term implications might be.”