The Ashland University Faculty Senate approved a resolution expressing that it had no confidence in President Carlos Campo, and asked the Board of Trustees to “seek new leadership” on Friday afternoon. The vote passed by a 34-1 margin, according to an email sent to faculty by Faculty Senate President Diane Bonfiglio.
This is the second time in six years that AU faculty have issued a vote of no confidence in university leadership. In May 2014, the faculty did so with regard to former President Fred Finks and former Provost Frank Pettigrew.
The resolution that was passed on Friday says that Campo “has repeatedly demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to collaborate with Faculty, communicate with Faculty, or foster an atmosphere of trust and respect.”
This no-confidence vote came after Bonfiglio sent an email to faculty that served as a report of the May Board of Trustees meeting. In this report, which covers six different issues, Bonfiglio said the board is considering a motion that would result in the cutting of numerous academic programs.
The university currently has a Sunsetting Task Force in order to reduce the number of academic programs offered by AU. The board originally considered a motion that would have required that task force to identify 25 academic programs to keep, and then eliminate the rest. The university currently has 77 academic programs.
Bonfiglio said in her report that the motion was written just a few days before the meeting, and most of the trustees didn’t receive the motion until less than 24 hours before they were asked to vote on it. She said the Sunsetting Task Force was not involved or made aware of the motion before it was presented a draft on May 6.
That motion was ultimately amended and now does not set a cap on the number of academic programs to keep, but does require the provost and the Academic Affairs office to present a detailed financial analysis and justification if it wants to keep more than 30 programs. This work, according to Bonfiglio’s report to faculty, will be conducted over the summer.
“In addition to raising strong objections to the content of the sunsetting motion, I also objected strenuously to the manner in which this motion came forward,” Bonfiglio said in the report. “Dr. Campo advocated for this motion that was created without consultation with faculty in complete disregard for shared governance principles.”
Bonfiglio said she could not comment at this time.
The proposed program cuts are part of the university’s attempts to significantly reduce its expenses. In an email to College of Arts and Sciences faculty in early April, Dawn Weber, the dean of that college, said that Campo said in a virtual Town Hall meeting that the university is “seeking to adjust our budget by $30 million (revenue enhancement and budget reduction).”
That would be about 25 percent of the university’s overall budget. According to the 2018 IRS 990 form, expenses from June 1, 2017 to May 31, 2018 were nearly $119 million. The university’s revenue that same year was $127 million.
The Ashland Times-Gazette published a story on AU’s budget issues on May 6. That story said the university’s revenue in the fiscal year ending on May 31, 2019 was $108.2 million.
Weber also said in her email to faculty that the university’s projection of 600 first-time undergraduate students has been reduced to 375 to 400. In the fall of 2019, there were 534 first-year students, an 11 percent decrease from the previous year, and the smallest freshman class since at least 2008. That resulted in a hiring and spending freeze in December.
In the Times-Gazette story, Campo said, “I would be surprised if some majors were not eliminated, but that’s a lengthy process. It’ll be months before any programs like that are even identified.”
Despite the fact the university is looking into cutting a significant number of academic programs and upwards of 25 percent of its total budget, the Board of Trustees approved a plan to build a new indoor athletic facility at its May meeting.