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WMU faculty vote "no confidence" in President Montgomery

Montgomery, in red and black robe and wearing a medal, leans in to talk to Dunn, in black robe
Sehvilla Mann

The union representing full-time faculty at Western Michigan University says 78.13 percent of members who took part this week in a referendum on President Edward Montgomery’s leadership agreed they had “no confidence” in him.

This story has been updated with a comment from the university. 

Just 21.87 percent of participating members of the WMU chapter of the American Association of University Professors disagreed, according to results posted Friday afternoon on the WMU-AAUP’s blog.

“WMU professors have taken this historically rare step only after much research, robust discussion, and somber reflection,” union president Cathryn Bailey wrote in the post.

“It is largely because of the president’s jarring lack of responsiveness to urgent constituent concerns and his consistently weak presence in our campus community that faculty have felt the need to take such action,” she added.

Bailey said 439 faculty, which she called an “impressive majority,” participated in the vote. She cited falling enrollment, a controversial rebranding campaign and “a precipitous decline in faculty and staff morale at least partly attributable to unjustifiable and irresponsible staffing shortages,” among other reasons for taking the vote.

The Board of Trustees praised Montgomery’s leadership yesterday, rewarding him with a $75,000 bonus. They also raised his salary by 1.5 percent, bringing it to $493,290.

Asked for comment, WMU spokeswoman Paula Davis shared a statment from WMU Board of Trustees Chair Lynn Chen-Zhang:

"At Western, in higher education and in the wider world, we're experiencing a period of extraordinary change and difficulty. Universities and colleges across the country are faced with declining student demographics, limited resources and unparalleled impacts from the pandemic. Through it all, Western Michigan University’s leadership is unrelentingly focused on putting today’s and tomorrow’s students first by responding to their changing needs and expectations.

"There are no easy answers. Rising to the task before us requires complex, long-term solutions. While there is much work to be done, we are making progress and are a university on the move. The board remains confident in President Montgomery and his leadership team’s ability to skillfully navigate these challenging times and fulfill Western’s mission—So that all may learn."


Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in January 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. Before that she covered a variety of topics, including environmental issues, for Bloomington, Indiana NPR and PBS affiliates WFIU and WTIU. She’s also written and produced stories for the Pacifica Network and WYSO Public Radio in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Sehvilla holds a B.A. in French from Earlham College and an M.A. in journalism from Indiana University.
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