Eric Douglas Published

BSU Faculty Senate Votes ‘No Confidence’ In President, University Officials

Conley Hall, home of the library and administrative offices of Bluefield State College, photographed in April 2004.

This is a developing story and may be updated. 

The Faculty Senate at Bluefield State University has passed a vote of no confidence in Bluefield State University President Robin Capehart, the Bluefield State University Board of Governors, and Executive Vice President and General Counsel Brent Benjamin. Benjamin is a former chief justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

The vote alleged numerous violations of West Virginia state codes, state higher ed policies, and accreditation criteria concerning communication, administrative procedure, tenure, and shared governance including:

  • The unsanctioned administrative dissolution of the faculty senate
  • The elimination of tenure and tenure protections
  • The elimination of peer review for tenure and promotion
  • The elimination of required faculty peer review of courses, curricula, and academic hires
  • The denial/nullification of democratically elected senate officers
  • The dissolution of the Office and absence of an Officer for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
  • Elimination of the protections required for academic freedom and freedom of speech
  • Creation of a toxic and authoritarian work environment harming institutional effectiveness

The votes were held on two different dates. The initial vote by the faculty senate was on Oct. 28. Each vote passed overwhelmingly. From Nov. 1 to 2, the full faculty voted on the same resolutions.

The vote against Capehart passed 37 to 8 with 5 no votes.

The vote against the board of governors passed 37 to 7 with 6 no votes.

The vote against Benjamin passed 39 to 7 with 4 no votes.

In a phone call, Charlie Cole, the chairman of the Board of Governors, said none of the faculty senate’s legal arguments hold water and he said general counsel Benjamin agreed. For Cole, the faculty senate was upset with two things.

“First, we added a post-tenure review,” he said. “Every three years, a tenured professor has to demonstrate that they are being the best professor they can be.”

The second change was that the faculty senate was changed to a faculty assembly. Cole said the board felt that was more inclusive by allowing adjunct and visiting faculty to participate.

“We want more input, not less,” he said.

“I don’t want to diminish their feelings, but we knew how they felt when we voted and we still voted to pass the changes,” Cole said. He noted that the only person to vote against the changes to the faculty senate was the faculty representative.