Walter Wendler responds to no confidence vote

West Texas A&M President, Dr. Walter Wendler, has responded to a recent no confidence vote in his leadership of the university.

“Well, I was a little disappointed because I think we are doing a good job and my concerns centered around the fact that the document itself was, it was less than straightforward in how it characterized things,” Wendler said.

Wendler takes issue with the vote by highlighting what he says are factual errors included in the original resolution.

“I wish they had checked the facts with people on the campus that do that for a living because some of the facts are wrong,” Wendler said. “Now, has the enrollment got down? Yes, at half the rate of other regional colleges in the United States of America… We live in an area where the population is fairly sparse and it hasn’t grown much.”

Wendler currently has no plans to step down as WT president and will do the best job he can until told he is no longer needed.

“That decision will be made by the Chancellor and the Board of Regents, the same group that hired me. I treat the no-confidence vote and the concerns that were raised as best I can see them. I don’t know what the concerns are exactly because there’s a number of factual statements that are wrong.

“You know, on this issue of, you know, what happens next? I have no idea. But I’m completely comfortable in it.

“Every action that I’ve taken, since the day I’ve been here, in my own way of looking at things, it’s been carefully considered, some things more carefully than others. Some things I wished I might have said something a little differently. But, you know, it’s interesting, regarding these recent current events, not a thing… I wouldn’t have done anything differently.

“I’m not going anywhere. I (would) have to get a freight train to pull me out of here. I just feel like there’s work that needs to be continued to be done and I’m going to do the best I can," Wendler said.

The WT Faculty Senate sent 368 emails to full-time faculty and full-time professional librarians – excluding deans, associate deans, department heads or equivalent, according to a news release from WT, and 261 submitted ballots.

Of those counted, 179 (69%) ballots were no confidence votes and 82 (31%) showed confidence.

It’s noted that 1,522 faculty and staff are employed at WT. The 261 people who voted represent 17% of WT employees.

Determination of eligible voters was solely determined by the 25 members of the faculty senate, a group of individuals elected by peers to represent their respective college, stand-alone school or the Cornette Library.

Wendler has been under fire since canceling a charitable campus drag show last month.

In an April 17 email to faculty, WT Faculty Senate President Ashley Pinkham said that the “Faculty Senate has taken the position that we have no confidence in the ability of President Walter Wendler to lead WT in a manner that enables our faculty, staff and administrators to educate and serve our students effectively.” 

The email noted that voting was expected to continue until Friday and take place using hard-copy ballots “to ensure confidentiality, anonymity and protection from public records requests.” All full-time faculty and full-time professional librarians were eligible to vote.

“We do not take this step lightly,” the email reads. “However, we believe that the mission to provide intellectually challenging, critically reflective, and inclusive academic programs at a well-respected, high-quality institution of higher education is at jeopardy. We believe we must take action now to restore the reputation of West Texas A&M University.”

A resolution included in the email, confirmed by another WTAMU faculty member, the reasons for the vote of no-confidence included claims that Wendler has:

“Repeatedly and explicitly encouraged prospective students to not attend WT by arguing that it is ‘immoral, costly and cruel to mislead students’ into attending a four-year institution rather than a community college.”

“President Wendler has acted contrary to WT’s commitment to academic freedom and ‘champion[ing] the free exchange of ideas’ through prohibiting previously approved on-campus activities contrary to his personal worldview.”

“President Wendler has used university resources and his position as university president to govern based on personal religious ideology…in apparent violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment…”

“President Wendler has shown a pattern of divisive misogynistic, homophobic and non-inclusive rhetoric that stands in stark contrast to the Core Values of the university.”

Wendler is facing a lawsuit filed against him last month by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Express, the Spectrum WT student group and two of Spectrum’s student leaders. The lawsuit alleges Wendler’s action in canceling the drag show is a violation of the First Amendment and a violation of a Texas campus free speech law signed in 2019 by Gov. Greg Abbott.

A spokesperson for West Texas A&M confirmed the vote results,  but a spokesperson for the Texas A&M University System declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.
Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher is the editor and publisher of High Plains Pundit. Dan is also the host of the popular High Plains Pundit Podcast.

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