West Virginia University’s faculty demanded Wednesday that embattled President Mike Garrison quit over a master’s degree scandal involving the governor’s daughter, the second call for his resignation in 10 days.
The nonbinding resolution, approved 565-39 with 11 abstentions, came during a rare special meeting open to all faculty.
Last week, the 114-member Faculty Senate voted overwhelmingly to demand Garrison resign. Garrison has refused, and Gov. Joe Manchin and the WVU Board of Governors that Manchin largely appointed have continued to support him.
While both faculty votes are nonbinding, professors hope the latest no-confidence vote on Garrison’s leadership will be harder to ignore because more faculty members were involved.
“WVU cannot recover from this crisis under the leadership that created it. President Garrison must go,” professor Boyd Edwards said during the meeting known as the University Assembly, which hasn’t convened since 1977. “Effective leadership requires widespread credibility and respect. He enjoys neither.”
Garrison acknowledged the vote in a prepared statement, but reiterated he plans to stay in the job.
“I am dismayed that it happened under my administration and I’m committed to making sure nothing of this sort happens here again.”
Last month, an independent panel concluded WVU administrators gave Mylan Inc. executive Heather Bresch an executive master’s of business administration degree she didn’t earn.
The panel found that administrators added courses and grades to her incomplete transcript, retroactively awarding her the 1998 degree she’d been claiming on her resume.
Bresch is a longtime friend of Garrison, and Mylan chairman Milan “Mike” Puskar, who has given tens of millions to WVU. While the panel found no evidence that Garrison directly interfered, it said the presence of his key staff at the decision-making meeting created “palpable” pressure.
Faculty senator Judith Sedgeman said that the scandal has supplanted the school’s reputation as a party school as its biggest PR problem.
“Now we are known as an institution without academic integrity run by political cronies who do whatever it takes” to take care of their friends, she said.
Also at the meeting, the faculty passed a resolution demanding a re-evaluation of the composition of the Board of Governors to increase its “transparency, representativeness and accountability.” Another motion called for changes to the process of appointing department heads, while a resolution asking the legislature to investigate the scandal was referred to the Faculty Senate.
Provost Gerald Lang and business school Dean R. Stephen Sears have since resigned from their administrative posts to return to teaching, with minimal salary cuts. There have been no other disciplinary actions or reassignments.
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