The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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April 18, 2013

Marshall president apologizes for revenue move

HUNTINGTON — Marshall University President Stephen Kopp says he regrets the overnight transfers of revenue from department accounts into a central holding account but insists that school administrators get a handle on where resources are being spent.

The Herald-Dispatch ( reports that Kopp apologized Wednesday for the removal of nearly all funds from department accounts last week — a move criticized by faculty members who say they weren’t notified until after the fact.

Professor Dallas Brozik said the College of Business has taken a vote of no confidence against Kopp and Provost Gayle Ormiston.

The Board of Governors on Thursday tabled Kopp’s proposal to overhaul the school’s budget policies.

The Faculty Senate scheduled an emergency meeting for Friday to discuss the proposal and to discuss the business school’s no confidence vote. If the Faculty Senate chooses to hold a similar referendum, a vote could occur next week.

A vote of no confidence is non-binding, but professor Pamela Mulder said it has symbolic power.

“It’s a step we are taking because we need to make some very strong statements at this point,” she said. “We don’t mind having leadership, but we need leadership we can trust and trusts us.”

Kopp contends Marshall’s current model is not suitable for an institution of its size, especially when it’s facing a $5 million cut in state funding.

He told The Herald-Dispatch editorial board that a new centralized budgeting model would allow for better fiscal management, simplified fees for students and the creation of a faculty and staff compensation pool.

Failure to act, he said, could eventually lead to an operating deficit.

During the overnight hours of April 15-16, nearly all the funds in the departmental accounts were swept into a central holding account so the administration and chief financial officer could analyze revenues and expenses. Kopp informed employees through an email, which he now says he won’t try to defend.

“In retrospect, it was not the right approach and I regret that,” he said. “People were insulted with the technique. ... It was culturally insensitive to our university community.”

Kopp said the money is still accessible to the departments.

“We just want to know what you are spending it on,” he said.

But Mulder calls it “an enormous kind of change, which really deserves transparent discussion and communication among all parties.”

“It may turn out that it is best for the university to do exactly what they are talking about, but I don’t think so,” she said. “They haven’t told us how it will be better.”

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