UW-Oshkosh faculty votes ‘no confidence’ in Chancellor Leavitt’s financial management

OSHKOSH (WLUK) – A majority of UW-Oshkosh faculty members expressed “no confidence” in Chancellor Andrew Leavitt for his handing of the school’s financial crisis, in a symbolic vote of his leadership.

Of the 281 ballots distributed, 229 were returned. Of those, 164 (72%) said they “do not” have confidence in Leavitt’s leadership, while 65 said they do.

“I have communicated the results to Chancellor Leavitt, and I hope to meet with him soon to discuss the concerns, comments, and suggestions that were voiced at the two open forums – on 8 and 15 March – held in advance of the voting period. Throughout this process, I have emphasized that the Faculty Senate remains committed to working with our administration to assist in meeting the many challenges that we face as a university community. It is my hope that we will embrace this moment as an opportunity to identify means of addressing the key issues that have informed the outcome of this confidence vote,” wrote Pascale Manning, Faculty Senate President, in announcing the results.

Chancellor Leavitt responded to the vote Friday afternoon:

Dear University community,

We have chosen to face challenges head-on at UW Oshkosh, responding to trends and forces disrupting higher education everywhere. The faculty referendum results released today are a reaction to hard but necessary decisions I have made as Chancellor.

In a matter of months, UWO has reduced an $18 million deficit to approximately $3 million. We are closing that remaining gap by redesigning and innovating our academic structure, which will save additional administrative costs as we reshape colleges and create new schools better reflecting the futures students see themselves in. Meanwhile, we see indications of a solid fall 2024 first-year class of students. Everyone at UWO is working diligently to strengthen enrollment next year and beyond.

As I shared in March, it is critical that we continue listening and responding to prospective learners who may not see themselves at UWO but can thrive here. Theirs is the confidence we all want to earn.

Stakeholders recognize our difficult decisions and are rooting for us in our work to build a more sustainable UWO. We remain on a responsible path, and I appreciate everyone’s continued stewardship.

The chancellor reports to the Universities of Wisconsin president and the Board of Regents; the faculty vote carries no specific discipline or sanction for Leavitt.

The no-confidence vote process was initiated by individual faculty members through a petition, not by the Faculty Senate itself.

In a statement released by United Faculty and Staff of Oshkosh, UFSO president David Siemers, wrote, “None of us wanted to do this but when leaders underperform and our state defunds our universities, someone has to sound the alarm: the people of Wisconsin are losing opportunities because of the deliberate neglect of our great regional comprehensive schools like UW Oshkosh.”

Universities of Wisconsin Board of Regents president Karen Walsh, vice president Amy Bogost and UW president Jay Rothman released this statement:

Chancellor Andy Leavitt has our full support. He is leading UW Oshkosh through a series of difficult but necessary decisions to position the university for a sustainable future. With a focus on current and future students, Chancellor Leavitt is thinking creatively about the university’s academic and building infrastructure. We want UWO to succeed, as do business and community leaders in Oshkosh and the Fox Valley region, and Chancellor Leavitt is the person to lead it.

As FOX 11 has reported, the college has laid off staff, instituted furloughs, proposed a reorganization of academic programs, and made other budget changes in light of shrinking enrollment and financial woes.