Piedmont University’s Board of Trustees decided to back its president of 10 years, James Mellichamp, after faculty approved a vote of no confidence earlier this week.
On Monday, May 9, Piedmont University faculty members met and approved a resolution stating President James Mellichamp’s “management has been damaging to the University's reputation, stature, and sustainability.”
The four-page resolution cites recent financial woes caused by a drop in student population and poor investments. It states Mellichamp “failed to establish a clear academic mission” for the university and lacked communication with faculty.
Budget cuts made earlier this year were the result of “lack of supervisory oversight,” by Mellichamp, the resolution states.
“The Faculty of Piedmont University has no confidence in the ability of President James Mellichamp to lead Piedmont University in a professional manner that enables our faculty to educate and serve our students effectively in the spirit of shared governance, transparency, trustworthiness,” the resolution states.
Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Gus Arrendale, responded to the vote Wednesday, May 11, writing that the board supported Mellichamp and would work to resolve issues outlined in the resolution.
“Regarding the call for a new president: The Board of Trustees respectfully, but decidedly, disagrees,” Arrendale wrote. “Piedmont University has thrived during President Mellichamp's decade of leadership.”
The letter lists some of Mellichamp’s accomplishments during his tenure including building the Springer Mountain Farms Conservatory of Music, renovating Piedmont’s Sewell Center for Education and other investments. It states student deposits for fall 2022 are up nearly 15% compared to this time last year.
“There are clearly numerous opportunities to improve faculty-administration relations,” Arrendale wrote. “On behalf of the entire Board of Trustees, I assure you that addressing your concerns and building a stronger faculty-administration partnership will be the primary focus of leaders throughout the university for the future.”
Piedmont's Faculty Senate Chair Dale Van Cantfort wrote in an email to The Times that Piedmont faculty members met Wednesday and decided not to respond to Arrendale’s letter.
Mellichamp also responded Wednesday, writing he was committed to improving relations with the university’s faculty.
“In the coming weeks, I will confer with members of the administration, the board of trustees, and faculty leaders to address concerns contained in the resolution,” Mellichamp wrote. “I am deeply appreciative of the dedication of our faculty and staff and know we can collaborate in moving forward.”