In a meeting with President Scott Gordon on Sept. 12, the Board of Regents passed an action titled, “Change to Fiscal Year ‘22 Annual Audit Plan for External Audit Services,” to begin addressing concerns raised about the Board of Regents, Gordon and the University’s budget.
This change would authorize the chief executive officer “to proceed with obtaining external audit services relating to the financial condition and budget of the University, including an external review of the university statement of net position and agreed upon procedures of key ratios and budget analysis,” according to Board of Regents member Robert Flores during the Sunday Zoom meeting.
Board of Regents Chairperson Karen Gantt also introduced a special committee called the “University Financial Council,” and appointed Flores as council chair. Immediate members elected by Gantt include the interim finance and administration vice president, the University Budget Council chair, the budget directors and the controller as immediate members. Other members will be determined later.
These decisions were reached in an effort to respond to concerns previously addressed in several meetings with the Faculty Senate, Department Chairs and Staff Council during “The Listening Tour,” as Gantt described it.
“Overall, my impressions from ‘The Listening Tour’ is that the faculty and staff do not feel listened to, or involved or considered in decision making,” Gantt said. “They don’t feel like they have a voice. They feel and express that the administrative arm, whichever it may be that applies to them, has been dismissive to them.”
According to Gantt, the feelings expressed by faculty regarding the Board follow the main themes that the “Board of Regents is perceived to be and is in fact inaccessible and unapproachable.”
“We discussed the need to find an effective and appropriate communication channel on substantive issues on University business,” Gantt said. “We also discussed that we are all people, and no Board member or anyone else on campus should ever be off-limits for casual conversations and basic human communication, ever.”
Feelings were also expressed by faculty and staff addressing Gordon during “The Listening Tour,” according to Gantt.
“It was expressed that Dr. Gordon has an inability to take criticism in a healthy way, that his leadership style is “authoritarian” [and] the word “bully” was used frequently,” Gantt said. “It was stated that there was a chilling effect on shared governance. It was expressed that [Gordon] takes credit for others’ work when it is successful, but has no accountability when an initiative is unsuccessful.”
Regarding topics surrounding the budget, faculty indicated that “people do not know how much money is in their budget, they don’t have an understanding of why that can’t be more clearly presented to them and that if the response is that the budget’s complicated, that the buck stops at the Board of Regents on the budget,” Gantt said in the Zoom meeting.
“It’s the Board of Regents’ responsibility to have a full understanding of the budget; and if the Board is voting on the budget, then it shouldn’t be described as a complicated document, but one that is conveyed easily across the campus community,” Gantt said.
The Board plans “to continue to evaluate the issues that have been raised.”
“The Board of Regents is greatly concerned about the information recently discussed, the action taken by the faculty senate and statements made by other constituencies on campus,” Gantt said. “We take these concerns seriously.”