The group drafted a letter dated Nov. 2 informing Oliver and the state College Board of its vote due to the followed alleged issues:
“ (1) The continued decline in enrollment
(2) No Faculty pay raise in the last five years
(3) No serious efforts to raise outside funds
(4) The general treatment of fellow faculty members
(5) The university not being moved in a positive direction.”
The Faculty Senate President Dr. Samuel McNair, who also serves as an associate professor of applied technology, said he has not received a response from the College Board.
Oliver, who was traveling, said in an e-mailed statement: “On last week, I received a letter from the President of the MVSU Faculty Senate stating that the Senate had voted on last week in favor of a “no vote of confidence” in my leadership as President and my administration. I later learned that purportedly fourteen of the seventeen members of the Faculty Senate voted in favor of the no vote. This group of 17 faculty members is a small representative body of the 127 total number of University faculty. Accordingly, a vote or decision by the Senate is not necessarily indicative of the general sentiments of the entire faculty body.”
The faculty group does not have the power to force the president to step down. That authority rests with the College Board.
State Commissioner of Higher Education, Dr. Hank Bounds, said the College Board has received the letter.
“The President of the Board of Trustees and I have received a copy of the letter sent to Dr. Donna Oliver, President of Mississippi Valley State University, on November 2 informing her of the vote of no confidence taken by the Faculty Senate at its meeting held the previous day. The Faculty Senate has raised several issues; we will review their concerns and engage all members of the university community as we work to ensure that students at Mississippi Valley State University receive an excellent education,” Bounds said.
Valley’s faculty senate voted no confidence in its previous president, Dr. Lester Newman in February 2007, citing alleged inconsistencies in faculty pay and a lack of professional courtesy. Newman resigned several months later. Oliver, who was provost and vice president for academic affairs at Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Fla., became the university’s sixth president in January 2009.
Regarding the dissatisfaction with enrollment numbers, McNair said, “We’re concerned about that because all the other schools in the system have an increase.”
Valley was the only Mississippi public college or university to report an enrollment decrease this fall, according to College Board data. While preliminary fall enrollment numbers showed state institutions of higher learning experiencing a system-wide increase of 5.2 percent, with a current enrollment of 2,452, Valley’s numbers are down almost 7 percent from the 2010 school year. Valley’s preliminary enrollment numbers in fall 2010 showed a decline of more than 12 percent.
Oliver’s statement said, “Mississippi Valley State University’s (MVSU) enrollment has been in decline for seven consecutive years (four of which predated Dr. Oliver’s arrival in January 2009).”
Addressing the complaint about the lack of pay raises, McNair said general faculty have not received raises while higher-level executives who know Oliver well have been promoted or moved around to different positions and received more money.
“If you conducted an audit with the people who have been given a raise, you’d see the executives have some kind of close connection with Oliver,” he said.
Oliver said: “In the three years that I have served as President MVSU faculty and staff have received promotion, tenure and degree completion salary increases. It should also be noted that during that period our state appropriation has been cut approximately 13% yet we have managed to operate the University without laying off a single faculty or staff member.”