EWU Faculty Senate votes ‘no confidence’ in university president

Courtesy Eastern Washington University
Courtesy: Eastern Washington University

CHENEY, Wash. — The faculty leadership of Eastern Washington University voted Monday that it has no confidence in university president Dr. Mary Cullinan.

The vote comes as EWU is on the verge of declaring a severe financial crisis.

EWU announced earlier this month that it’s dealing with the impacts of COVID-19 and also a decline in enrollment. The university is looking at revenue that’s $22 million less than projections.

PAST COVERAGE: Close to 400 positions impacted by budget cuts at EWU

EWU’s Faculty Senate issued the vote during a meeting Monday afternoon. It had previously sent a memo that indicated its displeasure with Dr. Cullinan’s leadership.

The vote was 34 senators in favor, two opposed, two abstained from voting.

“While disappointed in the vote by the Academic Senate of the EWU Faculty Organization, Eastern President Mary Cullinan respects its rights to voice concerns and provide feedback in accordance with its bylaws,” EWU said in a statement released after the vote. “The president strongly supports the Faculty Organization’s role in the shared governance process that is so critical to the development in university-wide policy, and she remains committed to partnering with faculty to work through its concerns while ensuring students receive and excellent education. Cullinan also looks forward to working with the Board of Trustees, as well as students, staff, and alumni, to pursue ways Eastern can sustain its core mission while navigating these challenging times.”

Cullinan came to EWU in 2014 from Southern Oregon University. There, she also received a vote of no confidence. 

EWU’s Board of Trustees will now have to decide what to do about this vote while also dealing with the budget shortfall and an uncertain return to campus this fall.

Eastern is already looking at possible changes to its athletic department; it has hired a consultant to do a comprehensive look at the department and recommend how the university should move forward.

The Board of Trustees also sent a lengthy statement after the votes were cast. It said, in part, “The Board of Trustees is disappointed in, and saddened by the EWU Faculty Senate vote of no confidence toward President Mary Cullinan, while deeply respecting the Senate’s voice and commitment to shared governance.”

It continues by saying the Senate “failed to give credit to our University President for her many significant accomplishments and achievements” and listing those accomplishments.

The Board of Trustees says it will “continue to move forward with the course we have charted… Only by working together, not against each other, will we achieve that goal.”

The trustees will hold a special board meeting Tuesday afternoon. The only thing on the agenda is public comment, as the trustees invite the university community and shareholders to comment on how to move forward in the face of the budget shortfall.

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