Protestors stand in crowded meeting with signs.
Faculty and community members protest impending budget cuts at Ohio University Board of Trustees meeting, January 17, 2020 (WOUB)

Ohio University Faculty, Union Workers Find Ways To Push Back Against Administration

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — The Ohio University Faculty Senate has delivered a vote of no confidence in two key executive administrators and is now pushing to take matters into their own hands, including a public protest.

On the heels of the Ohio University American Association of University Professor’s (OU-AAUP) petition, the majority of faculty senate members charged that the university’s president, M. Duane Nellis, and its vice president for finance, Deborah Shaffer have steered the university into a budget crisis that has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Faculty Senate Chair Dr. Robin D. Muhammad said 44 faculty senators voted yes, 11 voted no, and 6 abstained from voting on the no confidence resolution at Monday night’s meeting.

They also unanimously passed a resolution “to maintain academic excellence while promoting financial stability,” Muhammad said. The resolution includes the following demands of the president and provost:

  • Ensure faculty-administration collaboration when making financial decisions that affect the academic mission.
  • Communicate in the clearest possible terms and with concrete details what the university is doing and is committed to do to preserve our academic mission.
  • Present a comprehensive plan for meeting our financial shortfall that embodies the values of community, shared responsibility and shared sacrifice by including all planning units: upper administration, administrative, athletic, academic, and facilities, while minimizing the impact to the student academic experience.
  • Make available to all employees a timetable for when decisions are to be made about academic and non-academic cuts, restructuring, and/realignment.
  • Provide clear milestones, decision points and reporting strategies for the university community.
  • Strengthen reporting lines between administration and faculty and employees so all timely and accurate information is made available.

On Friday, Ohio University informed 140 American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) members their jobs would be eliminated as of May 31. AFSCME members work as custodial staff, building maintenance workers and groundskeepers, with the majority earning $30,000 – $50,000 annually. To date, at least three faculty members have also been recently informed by their department chairs that their contracts would not be renewed.

OU-AAUP and union members of the AFSCME will demand a firing freeze at OU during a motorcade rally on Wednesday.

According to a press release, participants will meet in the Peden Stadium parking lot at 5p.m. and drive to College Green at 5:30. They will circle the green until approximately 6p.m.

OU-AAUP and AFSCME are calling for a halt to all layoffs during the pandemic, the reinstatement of those who were laid off during the pandemic, and a cap of all OU salaries at $153,650 (Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s salary) for the duration of the pandemic.

OU-AAUP’s executive committee has also called on OHIO administrators to reverse the firings. Click here to read their statement in full.

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