The latest chapter in the Wayne State University Board of Governors' feud -- which has ground much board business to a halt in a manner more common in contemporary Washington D.C. -- played out in public on Tuesday, after four members announced that they had fired WSU President Roy Wilson.
No you didn't, retorted board president Kim Trent.
The details are mired in procedure, but David Jesse gives a concise sketch in his account in the Free Press. Put simply, a group discussion on WSU's recent free-tuition pledge was tacked on to the end of a health affairs subcommittee meeting, where four members claimed Wilson's announcement of the free-tuition program was mishandled and he should be fired as a result. Other members disagreed, and left the meeting.
In their absence, the you're-fired vote was taken, prompting Trent to post:
I have been very careful to not use my personal Facebook page to have detailed discussions about the problems of the Wayne State University Board of Governors but I must address a lie that four board members will be telling today. They will try to convince you that the board fired President Roy Wilson last night. We did not.
Two things: First, they will tell you that we had an executive committee meeting last night. We did not. We had a board briefing. I am the board chair, and I never convened an executive committee meeting. Even if we were in executive committee, this action could not be taken by the executive committee, it must be ratified by the full board at a public meeting.
Four members of our board -- Sandra Hughes O'Brien, Michael Busuito, Anil Kumar and Dana Thompson -- have decided to engage in a war of attrition to embarrass, harass and undermine President Wilson for months. In the process, they have embarrassed the university time and again.
Their tactics, while disheartening, will not work. They do not have five votes to remove Roy Wilson. He is the president of Wayne State University and is doing an outstanding job.
Trent said Tuesday that the four-member faction went so far as to notify WSU's police chief that Wilson had been fired and should be locked out of his office. He has not been, Trent said.
"There is nothing these four board members won’t do to drag Wilson’s name. The university’s reputation is simply collateral damage to them. ... These people do not care about the reputation of Wayne State University. I take it personally," she commented in two Facebook follow-ups. Trent is 1991 WSU alumna whose eight-year term runs through 2020.
Jesse's Free Press account adds:
The latest chapters [in the board feud] include an investigative report done after complaints filed with the Higher Learning Commission, the school's accrediting agency, found Hughes O'Brien had interfered with the day-to-day operations of the school. It said she tried to get employees fired and demanded that the school's responses to an NCAA issue be sent to her for review before going to the NCAA.
"What is missing in the public propaganda in support of President Roy Wilson is that he is an employee of the democratically elected Wayne State University Board of Governors," the trio wrote in its statement. "Wilson has acted like a dictator who rules the university by fiat rather than an employee subject to the authority of the board. Wilson’s lack of transparency, refusal to consult the board on major university issues and pitting board members against each other, has created the current turmoil at the university. It seems as though some in the service of Wilson and his faction are willing to twist the facts and deceive the public in protecting him at all costs. We will not be intimidated by any of their scare tactics and ignorant commentaries designed to hide the truth."
This is the latest in ongoing conflict on the board, including a lawsuit filed by those three board members against the other members of the board.
Don't invite them to the same parties, anyway. This won't end here.