WT faculty return vote of no confidence for Walter Wendler

West Texas A&M University faculty returned a vote of no confidence for President Walter Wendler.

The university 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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