LOGAN, W.Va. — Despite getting a “no confidence” vote from the school’s faculty last month, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College President Robert Gunter has had his contract extended along with a $15,000 pay raise.
The vote came Monday from Southern’s Board of Governors. The decision to give Gunter a four-and-half year contract and increase his base salary from $142,000 to $157,864 came after a state law required comprehensive evaluation, BOG Chair Howard Seufer told MetroNews.
“It highlighted the innovative ideas he’s brought to the college and in the board’s view he’s done a good job of positioning the college for the future and it meets the needs of the people of southern West Virginia and the employers,” Seufer said.
The decision does come with a message from the BOG to Gunter about his relationship with the faculty, Seufer said.
“The board did note concerns expressed by some faculty members about morale and the review encourages Dr. Gunter to take the initiative in dealing with those concerns and then informing the board of governors of his progress in doing that,” he said.
Forty-one of 57 Southern faculty members voted last month in favor of a “no confidence” motion. In a statement released by the faculty assembly at the time, the faculty expressed concern with Gunter “regarding governance practices, lack of transparency, abuse of power, and fostering a toxic culture devoid of ethical behavior and trust.”
Professor Anne Cline, a tenured faculty member at the school’s Wyoming County campus, told MetroNews Wednesday it remains to be seen if Gunter will be responsive to the concerns of some faculty members but she considers the BOG’s instruction to him “somewhat promising.”
“They know that there are faculty members that are unhappy and their asking him to work with us,” Cline said. “I think we could ultimately work through it if he would listen to what we have to say.”
Cline and others in the School of Arts and Sciences have expressed concern about personnel changes Gunter has made since taking the job in 2015. Cline said they question some people Gunter has empowered. They are also concerned about the ongoing reaccreditation process with the Higher Learning Commission.
The BOG didn’t give Gunter a timeline for working things out with the faculty but Suefer expects it to be a priority.
“It’s fair to assume that the board expects that to be acted on as soon as it can be,” Suefer said.
Suefer added Gunter has done a good job in positioning Southern.
“He’s thinking ahead to what skills are needed in the future including the robotics program and the drone program along with other disciplines based on influence from employees and others,” Suefer said.
Gunter was hired after a nationwide search. He was previously vice president for workforce education at Arkansas State University Mid-South, West Memphis, Arkansas.