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Public statement regarding action of the NNU Board of Trustees
regarding the “March 31, 2015 Administrative Action”

  1. The Board of Trustees wishes to express its deep gratitude for the diligent work of the Review Team and its facilitator, Dr. Tom Nees, and for the Review Team’s report which is thorough and enlightening, and provided significant assistance to the Board.
  2. The Board of Trustees believes that there would be benefit in releasing the Review Team report to the public; therefore, the report will be released simultaneously with this public announcement of the Board’s actions.
  3. The Board affirms the action taken in its March 2015 meeting asking the administration to meet certain financial goals that must be achieved in order to maintain the financial health of the university. Embedded within this action was the adoption of the 2015-16 University operating budget that included a budget surplus of $1.5 million, and the goal of achieving an operating surplus of $2 million in the 2016-17 fiscal year.
  4. The Board affirms the Review Team’s finding that the March 31 Administrative Action was consistent with current Faculty Policy Manual and with the authority of the president to act under those policies; at the same time, due to broader extenuating circumstances the Board directs the administration to modify the March 31, 2015 Administrative Action as described below.
  5. The Board believes that personnel reductions still need to be made to bring the university into alignment with appropriate and relevant ratios and performance factors. However, as indicated above, due to broader extenuating circumstances, the Board has decided to modify the March 31 Administrative Action, as follows:
     
    1. Graduate Counseling. In its first modification the Board instructs the administration to review with the Department Chair and the affected faculty member in the Graduate Counseling Department that portion of the Administrative Action that adversely affects this program. After this review and consultation, the administration shall determine the appropriate action to be taken.
    2. Graduate Theology. In its second modification the Board instructs the administration to temporarily reinstate the affected faculty member, according to the following terms. The Board, administration, and affected faculty member have explored the ongoing relationship between the university and the affected faculty member and have come to a mutually agreed and fully acceptable resolution to present and on-going matters involving the parties. The faculty member will become part-time, assigned to teach solely in the Graduate Theology Online program for up to three years, after which time the faculty member will cease employment with the university. Because this agreement was reached after the close of the 2014-15 school year, the affected faculty member shall be paid in full for the 2015-16 academic year.
    3. Staff. With regard to staff positions, the Board acknowledges that no staff positions have yet been identified for layoff because the process initiated to identify those staff positions was placed on hold with the appointment of the Review Team. Therefore, there is no modification necessary as to staff layoffs, as no decisions have yet been made. The Board notes that there are no contractual deadlines applicable to staff positions that would restrict the administration from still making adjustments.
    As the administration seeks to achieve the 2015-16 budget surplus (as directed in paragraph 3 above), the administration is directed to consider all allowable and appropriate personnel adjustments.
  6. The Board recognizes that our action to modify the Administrative Action will now make it difficult for the administration to fully achieve the 2015-16 operating surplus of $1.5 million; however, the Board anticipates that the administration will make every effort to seek to achieve the 2015-16 surplus by exploring and implementing all appropriate means possible.
  7. The Board acknowledges that the process of decision-making related to the Administrative Action raises legitimate concerns. The lack of full engagement of faculty department leaders and the issue of timing (e.g., how quickly the administrative action occurred) are important. The Board acknowledges that the short time frame (that may in part be attributable to the Board’s actions taken in its March 2015 meeting) likely contributed to the lack of full engagement. We believe that, as a university, leadership at all levels (including the Board of Trustees) can improve our processes both now and in the future, as we live out our ongoing commitment to continuous improvement.
  8. The Board is aware of systemic issues (within the Board and within the campus community) that have developed over time. Therefore, the Board and the administration are engaging the services of a third party (Dr. Curt Bechler and Venture International LLC) to assist the Board and campus community in addressing these issues in the year ahead.
  9. The Board desires that the university continue to move forward to address the concerns which have been expressed regarding collaboration, leadership, and communication. To address these concerns, we reaffirm the following (which are the items noted by the Board in recommendation “2.” contained in the Board’s “Response” dated April 17, 2015):
     
    1. We want to see a process which clearly identifies initiatives on how administration, faculty, and staff can live, work and communicate better in the days ahead.
    2. We are directing that initiatives be put in place starting immediately and extending across the next 18 months.
    3. We want these initiatives to show clear progress in these vital areas:
      1. To study and better understand the concept of shared governance across the university;
      2. To explore and clarify all policies and procedures related to tenure in the context of the university;
      3. To engage in a thoughtful discussion about academic freedom in a Christian university context and its implications for teaching, scholarship, and publication in traditional print and digital media (including social media).
    4. We will be expecting the president to coordinate a faculty-staff-administration report on the status of this work and the progress being made to be presented to the Board of Trustees at each of its semi-annual meetings.
    The Board understands that this process may conclude that existing policy is in need of revision; in such event, the Board stands ready to consider and discuss all such recommended revision of policy.

Northwest Nazarene University Board of Trustees
June 26, 2015