CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Marshall University faculty and one of the state's largest teachers unions are asking a court to force university president Stephen Kopp to hand over financial information. The West Virginia chapter of the American Federation of Teachers and two MU professors are seeking an injunction in Cabell Circuit Court because the university wanted nearly $55,000 to produce the requested information about the university budget.
The university is not trying to stonewall anyone, but the request was massive and would require lots of time and people, said Matt Turner, Marshall chief of staff.
"There's no attempt to hide anything," Turner said Thursday.
This comes weeks after Kopp pledged more transparency following a vote of no confidence in his leadership by Marshall's faculty.
The university community has been in an uproar over the university's finances since April, when the administration suddenly swept money from some departmental accounts - nearly $10 million - into a holding account controlled by the central office.
That act, and the way it was carried out - overnight, without warning to faculty or the affected departments - prompted a swift outcry from the faculty, quickly followed by other segments of the university community.
Kopp apologized, but it did little to assuage faculty members, whose no-confidence vote carried by a 2:1 ratio last month.
However, the Marshall Board of Governor then reiterated its support for Kopp, who promised to be more open with the university's finances. The board put off voting on Kopp's budget plan until they could get input from other sectors of the university, and Kopp created a budget work group in the name of inclusiveness.
But faculty members Dallas Brozik and Jim Sottile, who were not selected to be part of that group despite efforts to join, wanted to review the university's finances on their own.
"We are facing here at Marshall a fairly severe budget situation," Brozik, a finance professor, said Thursday.
On May 3, Brozik wrote to Kopp to ask for detailed budget information for the last five years. He wanted to know how much money was given to departments, the administration and the athletic program.
University associate general counsel Jendonnae Houdyschell called his request too vague. Saying she was acting "in the spirit of cooperation," she provided a summary of the adopted budget from 2009 to 2013 for 12 departments.
The half pages of figures per department were a far cry from the detailed information Brozik and Sottile sought.
"We just want to see where the money is going," Brozik said. "Could you run your household without seeing where your money is going? And then if the person with the checkbook refused to show it to you, what are you going to think?"
They responded by submitting new requests.
On May 8, Brozik and Sottile submitted Freedom of Information Act requests for "expenditures by the department/division level for all the colleges, the administration, and the athletic department for the last five years."
In a May 17 response, Houdyschell said it would cost them an estimated $54,296 each to receive the information. She said it would take the university three months to compile the information.