CHARLESTON, W.Va. - In the wake of a ringing vote of no confidence from the school's faculty, Marshall University's administration is scrambling to put its financial house in order.
Wednesday's no confidence vote in President Stephen Kopp was in reaction to his handling of budget issues: Last month he swept money in departmental accounts into one central holding account controlled by his office -- all overnight and without warning to faculty or the affected departments.
Kopp has repeatedly said the move was a necessary reaction to state budget cuts -- Marshall is facing a $5 million cut in state funding. That's nearly 9 percent of the institution's operating budget.
Kopp has said he hoped that moving the money -- nearly $10 million in all -- into a central account would enable administrators to better monitor spending, and better plan for future spending.
Even as he apologized for the act -- a move that even his supporters say was obtuse and ill conceived -- he has maintained that Marshall's current finance model doesn't suit an institution of its size.
"We have to find ways to make ends meet," Marshall Chief of Staff Matt Turner said Thursday. "These looming budget deadlines have to be met."
That argument has left many faculty members unsatisfied, but seems to have allayed Marshall's governing board, which Kopp ultimately answers to. Board Chairman Joseph Touma released a statement Wednesday in support of Kopp.
In an attempt to pacify the faculty and students, though, the board of governors voted in its April 18 meeting to table Kopp's budget proposal.
The faculty decided to go forward with a no confidence vote anyway, maintaining the lack of transparency Kopp had exhibited so far created a nearly irreparable level of distrust.
Kopp's sweeping budget proposals would have included revisions to the way the university structures tuition and fees, development of a new system to deal with students who participate only in online courses, and modification to "the allocation method of certain resources," among other things.
All these changes would have been taken into account as the university formulates its budget for the 2014 fiscal year.
In the wake of the controversy, though, Kopp formed a budget work group to confer on these same issues.
Some faculty members have complained about the makeup of that group -- it's composed of people from various university constituencies but detractors argue it's filled with favorites of the administration and hardly representative of the community's real viewpoints.