Wright State University President David Hopkins, who announced this week that he will retire in 2017, told faculty and staff in February that he held himself responsible for recent controversies that have dogged the school, and said he is working to restore “the public trust” of the institution.
In a video of the February WSU board of trustees meeting — requested by this newspaper under public records law on Feb. 18 and provided this week — Hopkins notes that “recent actions by a few individuals within Wright State were not acceptable and lacked appropriate oversight.”
Hopkins didn’t specify to what he was referring. But the university has faced scrutiny over the past year for possibly illegal use of the federal H-1B visa program, a multi-million dollar contract with an economic development consultant and other issues.
“These recent missteps and their public amplification have saddened me, and I know many of you, having cast our university in an unfavorable light. And I certainly bear full responsibility in a sense that these events have happened under my watch,” Hopkins said, reading from a prepared statement.
“As President, I want you to know that I have fully committed myself to doing everything possible to restoring the public trust and image of our great institution.”
Hopkins’ statement came a month after trustees gave him a 2 percent pay raise and a $79,650 bonus. Hopkins’ total compensation in 2015 was $854,220.
Hopkins’ full remarks:
I want to make a statement today. I want to be very clear, so I am going to read this statement because as you know I can get off track when I start just talking off the cuff.
First of all, this being the first public board meeting of 2016, and we are quickly approaching the 50th anniversary of our great university in 2017, I want to take this opportunity and thank all of you. I know there has been great work going on for many, many years as we try to transition Wright State to be a more relevant institution for the 21st century. I think that the progress we have made has been incredible.
And at the same time I fully acknowledge that recent actions by a few individuals within Wright State were not acceptable and lacked appropriate oversight. These recent missteps and their public amplification have saddened me, and I know many of you, having cast our university in an unfavorable light. And I certainly bear full responsibility in a sense that these events have happened under my watch. As President, I want you to know that I have fully committed myself to doing everything possible to restoring the public trust and image of our great institution. Like you, and I look around this room and I know how you care deeply about what we do here, I too have given my heart and soul to this institution. I don’t plan to stop doing that now.
In particular, I am pleased to report that we have completed a comprehensive review of administrative processes and modifications have been, and are being made, where necessary. Our new processes are designed to insure transparency and best-practice compliance in the operations of the University. I think you all know that the regulations and challenges we face in a fast growing institution are complex.
In addition, I am also announcing today a leadership initiative designed to address the growing financial challenges we face in our efforts to better serve our students, staff and faculty, and most importantly to achieve the critical mission of Wright State University.
I have directed Provost Sudkamp and Chief Financial Officer Ulliman (both long time, dedicated and great colleagues of our University) and have charged them to oversee the design and implementation of a long-term operational plan that will carefully align all activities of programs and units to ensure fiscal efficiency in advancing the core mission of student success in adherence with best-practice national models.
They will solicit input from the Finance committee of the Board of Trustees, College/School Deans, Vice Presidents, the Faculty Senate, and staff councils during the development of this plan. We will share the plan, and all its details with the campus community during our annual Budget Workshop on June 2, 2016.
Once approved, I will charge the Provost and our CFO to execute the plan and will personally be accountable to the Board of Trustees for its success. The College/School Deans and VP’s will be charged to embrace the plan and fully support the Provost and CFO in its implementation.
Let me close by saying; we are, along with many other public universities, facing a “new normal” that will require some tough decisions and steady leadership throughout our campus.
But, I am confident, as we have done before, that we will all unite in our resolve and emerge as a stronger University with an enhanced ability to carry out our unique and important mission to serve students for generations to come.