CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – Officials with West Texas A&M University on Tuesday released the results of a no-confidence vote held against President Walter Wendler by the Faculty Senate, for which staff was able to submit ballots through the week of April 21.
Officials with WT confirmed with MyHighPlains.com that 69%, of the faculty who voted, had a vote of no confidence in Wendler’s leadership. This comes five days after the Faculty Senate initiated the process.
As previously reported on MyHighPlains.com, the vote came in the wake of a March letter that Wendler sent out to students, faculty and staff, commenting on his decision to not allow an on-campus charity drag show, citing his belief that drag shows are discriminatory against women and do not preserve “a single thread of human dignity.”
Officials reported in a news release that the Faculty Senate is made up of 25 members elected by their peers to represent their respective college, stand-alone school or the Cornette Library.
Of the total 368 e-mails sent to full-time faculty and full-time professional librarians (excluding deans, associate deans, department heads, or equivalent) deemed eligible to vote by the Faculty Senate, 261 people, or 70%, participated in the vote by submitting a valid ballot. Of the 261 ballots, counted 82 people, or 31%, voted to show confidence in Wendler’s leadership and 179 people, or 69%, voted no confidence in Wendler’s leadership.
The 261 faculty/staff who voted represented 17% of WT employees. WTAMU said it employs 1,522 faculty and staff.
In an April 17 email to faculty, WT Faculty Senate President Ashley Pinkham said that the “Faculty Senate has taken the position that we have no confidence in the ability of President Walter Wendler to lead WT in a manner that enables our faculty, staff and administrators to educate and serve our students effectively.”
The email noted that voting was expected to continue until Friday and take place using hard-copy ballots “to ensure confidentiality, anonymity and protection from public records requests.” All full-time faculty and full-time professional librarians were eligible to vote.
“We do not take this step lightly,” the email reads. “However, we believe that the mission to provide intellectually challenging, critically reflective, and inclusive academic programs at a well-respected, high-quality institution of higher education is at jeopardy. We believe we must take action now to restore the reputation of West Texas A&M University.”
A resolution included in the email, confirmed by another WTAMU faculty member, the reasons for the vote of no-confidence included claims that Wendler has:
- “Repeatedly and explicitly encouraged prospective students to not attend WT by arguing that it is ‘immoral, costly and cruel to mislead students’ into attending a four-year institution rather than a community college.”
- “President Wendler has acted contrary to WT’s commitment to academic freedom and ‘champion[ing] the free exchange of ideas’ through prohibiting previously approved on-campus activities contrary to his personal worldview.”
- “President Wendler has used university resources and his position as university president to govern based on personal religious ideology…in apparent violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment…”
- “President Wendler has shown a pattern of divisive misogynistic, homophobic and non-inclusive rhetoric that stands in stark contrast to the Core Values of the university.”
WTAMU’s website noted that the faculty also conducted a vote of “no confidence” of then-president Ed D. Roach in 1988. As noted by WT, the ensuing two years included “a $5.5 million renovation of Old Main and the subsequent conversion of the former administration building into a student union, along with a sizable cost overrun for construction of a new presidential home and continued athletic deficits” that stretched it to its financial limits. While the initial censure from the faculty didn’t result in Roach being dismissed from his position, he announced his resignation at the end of 1990, shortly after the State Auditor released a highly-critical report of the university’s finances.
Meanwhile, Spectrum WT, a Gay-Straight Alliance that organized the initial charity drag show event, filed a lawsuit in Federal Court against Wendler and other WT and Texas A&M University System officials. As previously reported on MyHighPlains.com, the organization requested in the lawsuit that a declaratory judgment be issued stating that Wendler’s cancellation of the event, and his pledge to prevent similar events on campus, violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
This is a developing story. MyHighPlains.com will update this article as new information becomes available.
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