Chris Schulz Published

President Gee Faces Vote Of No Confidence Next Week

A sign on a bedsheet that reads "Fire Gee" over painted flames is held up under the entry arch of WVU's Stewart Hall. Another visible sign is held up over a crowd's head reads "We are skipping our lessons to teach you one!!"
A protest against proposed program cuts at WVU moves to Stewart Hall on the university's downtown Morgantown campus Aug. 21, 2023.
Chris Schulz/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The University Assembly will meet Sept. 6 at noon to vote on resolutions of no confidence in West Virginia University President Gordon Gee’s leadership, as well as to halt the academic transformation process. The appointment of the university’s president is ultimately up to the Board of Governors.

The resolution purports Gee has mismanaged the university’s finances and failed to provide honest and transparent communication within the university community.

During Monday’s WVU Faculty Senate meeting, Chair Frankie Tack said the resolutions had received the minimum five percent of verified faculty signatures to call an assembly meeting.

The assembly is open to all faculty members across WVU’s three campuses with faculty from Kaiser and Potomac joining remotely. The primary meeting will take place in person at the Center for Creative Arts in Morgantown.  

Tack estimated around 700 faculty members will need to attend to form a quorum.  

“We are requesting that unit leaders support faculty who have scheduled face-to-face or synchronous online classes during that time in providing out-of-class assignments to their students and canceling class so they can attend the assembly,” she said.

Faculty senators questioned why the meeting was not being held in a hybrid format to allow the largest amount of faculty to participate. 

“First, the WVU Zoom is limited to 1,000 participants,” Tack said. She went on to say that the use of the chat and Q&A functions in previous online meetings have not allowed the meetings to remain in order.

“We are bound by our faculty constitution to follow Robert’s Rules of Order, and we cannot do that with that many people online,” Tack said. “We saw this most recently with our last Faculty Senate meeting, where faculty senators were repeatedly asked to stop posting in the chat and the Q&A, and to raise their hand to be recognized. We have a process, and again it’s bound by our constitution. Dropping into the Q&A, and in the chat online is akin to hollering out from your seat in this forum.”

Gee faced a similar vote of no confidence in December 2021, that time alongside Provost Maryanne Reed. Gee addressed the Faculty Senate Monday. That vote was not successful.

“I want to be clear that West Virginia University is not dismantling higher education — but we are disrupting it and I am a firm believer in disruption,” he said. “I have seen numerous stories and posts about how we are ‘gutting’ or ‘eviscerating’ our university. That is simply not true.”

Gee acknowledged that it was a difficult time for the university community, but that change was necessary.

“I’ve had a lot of anger directed at me over time,” he said. “I’m not immune to it, but I certainly understand it so I accept the criticism as it comes with the job.”

An online student petition supporting the resolutions started on Monday has already garnered more than 160 signatures.