Piedmont faculty members express ‘no confidence’ in president

Dr. James Mellichamp

Piedmont University faculty members voted on Monday and professed ‘no confidence’ in President James Mellichamp. Faculty members cited mismanagement, lack of transparency, and pending lawsuits among their concerns.

Piedmont University is a liberal arts institution based in Demorest, GA. The university offers a completion program and grad school in Athens.

“President Mellichamp’s management has been damaging to the University’s reputation, stature, and sustainability,” states a resolution approved by a majority vote of the faculty in attendance.

On Tuesday, Piedmont’s Faculty Senate Chair Dale Van Cantfort reported the faculty’s decision, saying he did so “with a heavy heart.”

“As required by this resolution and serving as Chair of the Faculty Senate at Piedmont University, I am delivering copies of this resolution to the Piedmont University Board of Trustees, the full Senate of Piedmont University, the President of Piedmont University, James Mellichamp, and the local media outlets.”

READ Piedmont faculty resolution

The resolution calls on the school’s Board of Trustees to appoint an interim president while conducting a national search for a new president “with all due speed.”

“One suggestion for an interim President is the selection of an existing Board of Trustee Member of Piedmont University,” the faculty offered.

Non-binding resolution

There are approximately 120 full-time faculty members on staff at Piedmont University; 94 of them attended the May 9 assembly, according to those with knowledge of the meeting. Since Faculty Senate bylaws do no allow proxy votes, only those in attendance could vote. Casting secret ballots, 51 voted in favor of the no confidence motion, 38 opposed it, and 5 abstained.

While it is not uncommon to hear talk of no confidence votes within academia – the vote at Piedmont has been under consideration for three years, sources tell Now Habersham – it is considered unusual for such votes to pass. Although the vote was conducted by secret ballot, insiders say those who voted for new leadership took a big risk. Piedmont University is a private institution governed by a Board of Trustees that has been deferential to the president in the past. Whether they will act on the faculty’s recommendation remains to be seen.

“As instructed by the faculty, I have informed the board of trustees of the results of the vote of the no confidence resolution,” says Van Cantfort. “It is my hope that they will take the concerns of the faculty seriously and will act in a positive manner.”

Dr. Mellichamp, a music professor and renowned organist, joined the Piedmont faculty in 1982. He was named president in 2012 after serving for years as Dean of the College and later Vice President Provost.

He issued the following statement in response to the faculty’s no confidence vote: “We appreciate the faculty bringing issues to our attention which we look forward to working together on collaboratively as we continue moving the university forward.”

The Board of Trustees’ next regularly scheduled meeting is in October. For trustees to formally consider the resolution before then a meeting would have to be called by the board’s executive committee. That committee is led by Fieldale Farms’ CEO and Chairman Gus Arrendale who many consider to be a staunch supporter of Dr. Mellichamp.

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