'Edinboro U. Is Reeling' states Chronicle article, petition against president over 700 signatures

Category:  News
Thursday, March 22nd, 2018 at 10:31 AM

On Wednesday evening, Chronicle of Higher Education writer Jack Stripling authored a follow-up to his March 18 article about Edinboro University President Dr. H. Fred Walker and his time on campus.

The new piece, titled “The President Has Spoken and Edinboro U. Is Reeling” outlines the controversy that broke out on campus after the original article was published. One student, music education major Jillian Melchitzky, created an online petition calling for the resignation of Walker. At time of publication, the petition had more than 700 signatures.

Walker spoke to The Chronicle on Wednesday about how he plans to rebuild trust with the university community, stating: "There was a significant lack of balance and accuracy in the initial story. In particular, there was no information provided about the progress that has been made in ensuring a vibrant future for Edinboro University. We have made strides to stabilize the university and ensure future growth. The primary focus must be on doing what is best for the university and our students, which means continuing our forward momentum." 

Stripling notes that: “a bit of straight talk about hard choices seems in order. At the same time, professors say, Walker’s comments convey a distaste for the faculty that had previously gone unspoken.”

While Edinboro Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) President Dr. Marc Sylvester did not say what the union’s options moving forward were, Stripling notes in the piece how other professors have mentioned a “no-confidence vote or letter of censure as possible outcomes.”

“I would say trust is pretty much out the window at this point,” Edinboro English professor Dr. Elisabeth Joyce said to The Chronicle. "There wasn’t a lot of trust to begin with. At this point it would be a miracle if he regained our trust."

She continued: “He’s not apologizing for his strategy, where he was trying to play us. He was apologizing that he was so open. I don’t think he’s going to change anything about how he treats us."

Edinboro APSCUF has a meeting Thursday afternoon to discuss possible options.

Stripling asked Angela Burrows, assistant vice president for marketing and communications, to clarify any inaccuracies in the original article. She claimed the assertion that Edinboro “raided” reserves was false, and the truth is that the university had instead “dipped into reserves, but not significantly.” Additionally, she also took issue with Stripling noting that programs were being cut, but failing to mention that some programs were transitioning into new variations.

As of right now, neither the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Board of Governors nor the Interim PASSHE Chancellor Karen Whitney have commented about the matter.

Chairperson of the Edinboro University Council of Trustees told GoErie that the council planned to hold a meeting within the next week to discuss the article.

Pennsylvania APSCUF President Kenneth Mash said in the article: “My individual reaction when I read it was, ‘Boy you need to resign.’ How do you recover when you come out and say I can’t reason with my faculty? How do you ever return to the level of trust that is really important for leadership? It raises a lot of questions about his future at the university."

Art professor Michelle Vitali described in the article how people were “apoplectic” at the part in the original article where Walker said Dylan Hollingsworth, an Edinboro student, created a petition to save the music department from program cuts as a “distraction” because he was grieving a death in the family.

Melchitzky said in the Stripling follow-up: “He has repeatedly compared the university to a business. And if we are the customers, then we want him to know that we are unhappy."

Dakota Palmer is the executive editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com. 

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