Libby Day


A complicated history: McDavis has rocky relationship with faculty

Sarah Penix / For The Post

Ohio University President Roderick McDavis has had a complicated relationship with faculty members.

In 2007, OU faculty members and students completed surveys that overwhelmingly stated no confidence in McDavis for the second year in a row.

The American Association for University Professors conducted the survey, which focused on McDavis and those in top administrative positions. The no-confidence rating served as a reflection of communication between OU faculty, students and administrators.

Kevin Uhalde, an associate professor of history, has been a part of the OU AAUP for more than a decade. He said AAUP’s involvement in recent years has reflected the same kinds of concerns that were “in the air” at the time of the 2007 survey.

“From the OU AAUP perspective, which is a faculty perspective, there’s been either remarkable consistency or remarkably little change, which ever way you wanna put it, from 10 years ago to until today and the end of McDavis’ presidency,” Uhalde said.

The OU chapter of AAUP stopped conducting those surveys once Faculty Senate developed their own evaluation instrument of the president, Uhalde said.

During May 2008, Faculty Senate passed a resolution that called for an evaluation of the president and provost to inform the Board of Trustees.

Those collections did not frame the evaluations as no confidence or confidence, like the AAUP’s surveys. However, the combination of “disagree” or “strongly disagree” responses to questions regarding good leadership of OU’s administration was more than 50 percent, Faculty Senate Chair Joe McLaughlin said.

Such evaluations took place during McLaughlin’s first term as Faculty Senate’s executive committee chair between 2009 and 2012. There is no resolution ending the evaluations.

“I do remember the tension I sensed generally on the campus at the time, between faculty and administrators, and that was one thing as a new professor that I sort of noticed right out of the gate,” Harold Perkins, associate professor of geography, said. “Ever since that time, there’s been an ongoing concern among many of my colleagues about shared governance on OU’s campus.”

Perkins was a new, untenured faculty member when the 2007 survey results were released. He said that as a whole, faculty are concerned about the degree to which administrators respond to faculty, undergraduate and graduate students.

“(McDavis) for a long time has used very broad pronouncements that are addressed to the whole community,” Uhalde said. “They are pronouncements that don’t invite discussion, they certainly don’t invite debate.”

Uhalde said he hopes the next president will have meaningful form of dialogue with all constituencies.

In 2015, some faculty members also took issue with the lease of 31 Coventry Lane following the McDavises’ move out of 29 Park Place because of a bat problem.

More than 80 faculty members signed a letter that expressed their discontent with the purchase and urged administrators to reconsider leasing the property.

“Just about every faculty member I’ve talked to is very upset about this,” McLaughlin said in a previous Post report.

Recently, some faculty members expressed concern about the rights of student protesters who demonstrated and were arrested in Baker Center on Feb. 1. Those faculty members asked that the charges for those students be dropped, though McDavis said at a Faculty Senate meeting the Ohio University Police Department acted in its best interest during the situation.

Development by: Seth Archer / Digital Managing Editor

Landing Page

The McDavis Issue

OU President Roderick McDavis is leaving February 17. The Post looks back at his time as Ohio's president. Click this box to read the rest of the stories from this issue.