The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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May 2, 2013

Marshall board backs Kopp despite faculty vote

CHARLESTON — Marshall University’s Board of Governors gave its “overwhelming” support to President Stephen J. Kopp on Wednesday, despite an earlier vote of no confidence by university faculty after Kopp moved funds between departments without prior notification.

The faculty vote was released earlier Wednesday by the Marshall Faculty Senate. Of the 420 faculty members who took part in online voting over the past week, 290 voted no confidence in Kopp, 107 supported him, and 23 abstained.

Dr. Joseph Touma, chairman of the Board of Governors, said Kopp has exceeded the board’s performance expectations in several areas.

“The board also believes that he is the right person to keep our great university moving in the right direction,” Touma said.

The board on April 18 tabled a proposal by Kopp to overhaul the school’s budget policies.

Kopp had ordered the transfer of nearly all funds from department accounts into a central holding account so that revenues and expenses could be analyzed.

Faculty members criticized the move, saying they weren’t notified until after the fact. Kopp later apologized and had the money returned.

“Our shared goal is to do what is best for our students. We can only achieve this by working together openly in a renewed and genuine spirit of cooperation,” Touma said.

Kopp said he respects the faculty’s vote and is pleased to have the Board of Governor’s support.

“However, the budget challenges we set out to address remain and I do not see additional public funding on the horizon,” Kopp said. “We have much work to do in the coming days and months to ensure Marshall continues its progress with even more limited public resources.

“I am extremely proud to lead this great institution and I want everyone to know that, while we have tremendous challenges ahead, they present an opportunity to find even more ways for us to work together.”

Kopp has said Marshall’s current budgeting model isn’t suitable for an institution of its size, especially when it’s facing a $5 million cut in state funding. Marshall has about 14,000 students.

Kopp wants a more centralized model to allow for better fiscal management, simplified fees for students and the creation of a faculty and staff compensation pool.

Touma said in order to find budgetary and other solutions, first there must be an atmosphere that fosters constructive dialogue.

“We expect better communication and collegiality from all constituent groups and consider this an opportunity to establish common ground on which we can address the financial and other obstacles that lie ahead,” he said.

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