UHV faculty indicate unhappiness with president
May 27, 2017 at 8:30 p.m.
Updated May 28, 2017 at 6 a.m.
About two-thirds of the University of Houston-Victoria faculty wanted to replace President Vic Morgan, according to survey results released by the University of Houston System.
UH Chancellor Renu Khator cited the results last month as the reason for starting a search for a new president. The Advocate obtained the survey results through an open records request.
However, a survey of UHV staff members showed about two-thirds were satisfied with Morgan’s performance and wanted him to stay.
Survey comments provided a look into the mood of a split campus undergoing tremendous change in recent years. During that time, UHV has pushed to grow into a so-called destination university in Victoria while being forced by the UH System to relocate its successful distance learning campus from Sugar Land to Katy in suburban Houston.
Both faculty and staff wrote about this tension but with widely divergent opinions about how successfully
Morgan was navigating this new territory. All of the comments were anonymous.
“President Morgan’s leadership has been insufficient and unfocused at best,” a faculty member wrote. “The current status of our university – including the precarious drop in enrollment – is directly attributable to his lack of vision and leadership.”
Other faculty members and staff attributed the challenges to the huge turmoil Morgan inherited, such as expansion to add freshmen and sophomores without any extra state funding. Some also noted UHV has had six presidents or interim presidents since 2010 and five provosts or interim provosts during that same time.
“This is the first time since downward expansion that there is the leadership in place to guide and direct us to our goals and fulfill the vision of UHV,” wrote a staff member.
One faculty member added, “President Morgan’s tenure here has been the most stable and forward-looking leadership I’ve experienced in my time on the faculty.”
In an interview Friday, Morgan said he feels indifferent about the survey.
“I take things that come in an anonymous survey with a grain of salt,” Morgan said. “That goes for the positives as well as the negatives.”
Khator was unavailable for comment.
Instead of formal performance reviews, Morgan received two letters from the chancellor, the most recent of which was Aug. 1, 2016, that expressed her praise and support of his performance.
Morgan said he searched for suggestions from faculty and staff to create improvements in the administration.
Suggestions included a need for transparency within the university and a concern for increasing the number of face-to-face classes.
Some attributed the dissension to faculty and deans opposing the building of a destination university and the move away from online education in suburban Houston.
“Downward expansion is particularly tricky because it involves a cultural change at UHV,” a comment read. “We can no longer just be an online school.”
Morgan said the position of a dean is like that of a president.
“There will be faculty members who like them and those who don’t,” he said.
The deans of arts and science and business also received criticism about hindering the growth of the university.
“The success of our entire university is limited by their focus on increasing their power through practices that include hiring friends and changing to policies to help consolidate their power base,” a survey taker wrote.
Staff and faculty also had concerns about the efforts of university officials in terms of boosting enrollment, specifically Jay Lambert, at the time vice president for enrollment management and student affairs.
Since the survey, Lambert’s title has changed to vice president of student affairs.
Morgan said he sent an email to the campus community about 10 days ago to announce switching enrollment management to David Cockrum, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs.
Although a loss in enrollment was seen in the transition from Sugar Land and Katy, Lambert increased enrollment in Victoria, Morgan said.
“It is an unfounded complaint,” he said. “It’s always easy to point fingers and say it’s their fault. It rarely is as simple as saying, ‘Lambert did not do his job.’”
Senior faculty resisting the push to face-to-face courses were included in some survey comments.
“The pushback comes because of reluctance to modify their teaching and syllabus or resentment of having to commute to Victoria because these senior faculty live in Austin, San Antonio or Houston,” a commenter wrote.
Face-to-face classes are essential in creating a comprehensive regional university, Morgan said.
“Some students are not mature enough to be successful in online programs, which is why they come to campus,” he said. “If we don’t have face-to-face, there is no reason for them to be here.”
To address concerns in the survey, Morgan’s successor will need to understand the role of the university and community, he said.
“We need someone who understands what the university is and continue to build on the foundation laid,” said Morgan, whose term will end in August 2018.
With the time that remains in Morgan’s service, he will continue to push to increase enrollment, face-to-face classes, student activities and academic programs. He also will help in selecting the next president. That process begins this fall.
In the meantime, he said, his focus will be “all the things that need to happen to make UHV a destination university.”