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After campus braces for results, Marshall vote is in

Marshall University faculty members have taken a symbolic vote of no confidence in President Stephen J. Kopp.

Marshall's Faculty Senate released the voting results Tuesday morning. Of the 420 faculty members who took part over the past week, 290 voted no confidence in Kopp, 107 supported him and 23 abstained.

Faculty Senate Chairman Eldon Larsen has said voting was open to about 800 faculty members.

The poll of faculty came after the administration suddenly swept the money in some department accounts - nearly $10 million in all - into a central account.

That act, and the manner in which it was executed - overnight, without warning to faculty or the departments affected - prompted outcry among the school's faculty.

Students were soon drawn into the controversy - some say after their teachers brought it up in class. They're mainly concerned about the status of the fees they're paying to Marshall. Journalism students don't want their department fees to pay for a chemistry student's beakers, and vice versa.

Marshall Chief of Staff Matt Turner told the Daily Mail at the time that that's not how the system works - all the funds were still allocated in the same way. He also acknowledged that the sweeping of the funds was mishandled.

"It was the wrong move, clearly," Turner said. "We didn't expect that kind of backlash over that, but it was not intended to be anything done in the dark."

Kopp himself apologized to the faculty for the way he went about sweeping the department accounts, while defending the act itself. The administration maintains that Marshall's current finance model is not suitable for an institution of its size, especially when it's facing a $5 million cut in state funding.

The community wasn't initially assuaged by that apology. Students held a protest on campus two weeks ago, the day before the faculty gathered for an emergency meeting to decide to take a vote on their confidence in Kopp. Last week, there were still signs critical of Kopp posted on campus.

Last week, Kopp proposed a working group to consider issues related to next week's budget.  

By the last day of the voting period Tuesday, the controversy seemed to have waned. Most faculty members have been less vocal in their criticism in recent days.

Students were hosting an end-of-semester ice cream social at the student union on the sunny afternoon.

"It kind of died down," said Michelle Wainscott, a sophomore business management major. "When it went public, everyone would talk about it all the time, but not anymore."

Lawren Hightower, a senior, is majoring in journalism and paid a lot of attention to the controversy. But he said that even from the thick of it, the atmosphere on campus feel less contentious than it did two weeks ago.

"The level of anger has definitely subsided," he said.

"But anything could still happen."

The results of the faculty's no-confidence vote are to be released this morning.

 


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