The Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at Piedmont University in Demorest has resigned. Dr. Daniel Silber resigned on Tuesday, June 7, “effective immediately” according to an email he sent to colleagues on campus.
Now Habersham obtained a copy of that email, which sources say was deleted from the campus server within an hour of being sent.
In the email, the now-former provost says his resignation is in protest over proposed staffing cuts the Board of Trustees Executive Committee is expected to pass. If his claims are accurate, it will mark the second round of staffing cuts at the Demorest-based university this year. Piedmont cut approximately eight percent of its staff back in February.
“These cuts will take place less than two months prior to the start of the next contract year. I am sure many of you will agree that such a decision is morally wrong because it does not provide faculty members anywhere close to a reasonable time frame to obtain employment elsewhere,” Silber says in his email.
He continues, “My hope is that there will be a last-minute change to change course, but, regardless. Piedmont University is in for some very tough times.”
It remains unclear what, if any, specific cuts Piedmont plans to make. Sources tell Now Habersham there is a possible proposal to cut eight non-faculty positions from the budget. Now Habersham reached out to the college for additional information and comment.
While the accuracy of Silber’s claims has not been confirmed, his email calls out at least one university official for not being transparent with financial data. He claims the budgetary process “failed to be properly inclusive.”
“I have fought to the best of my abilities against this decision. Our colleagues in academic administration joined me in the struggle, but unfortunately, our president and trustees see the matter differently. Now that this draconian measure is being implemented, I have no moral choice but to leave the institution,” the email says.
“I refuse to be a party to terminations that are carried out in such an unethical manner,” he adds.
On the heels of no-confidence vote
Silber’s resignation comes almost one month after the school’s faculty senate passed a no-confidence vote against Piedmont University President Dr. James Mellichamp. While a majority of faculty voted in favor of a resolution alleging financial mismanagement and calling for Mellichamp to be replaced, the board of trustees, led by chair Gus Arrendale, stood behind him.
At the time, Arrendale indicated the institution was on sound financial footing, stating: “Student deposits for fall 2022 are up nearly 15 percent over this time last year, at a time when college enrollment nationally is declining. Housing deposits are also up year-over-year.”
Mellichamp remains Piedmont’s president. Silber says he tendered his resignation on Tuesday and Dr. Mellichamp accepted it.
Dr. Silber served as Piedmont’s chief academic officer for four years. He was responsible for the college’s four academic schools – Arts & Sciences, the Harry W. Walker School of Business, Education, and the R.H. Daniel School of Nursing & Health Sciences.
Before coming to Piedmont, Silber served as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College at Culver-Stockton College in Missouri.
Contacted by Now Habersham for comment, Silber confirmed his resignation but had little else to say about the matter.
“Despite my disagreement about this particular budget decision, Piedmont remains a wonderful institution,” he says, “and I will always wish its students, faculty, and staff the very best.”
This article has been updated with comments from Dr. Dan Silber