CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Professors at West Virginia State University may not be pleased that longtime university president Hazo Carter will remain at the school until 2014 as president emeritus, but the decision by the Higher Education Policy Commission didn't come as a surprise, Tim Ruhnke, chairman of the Faculty Senate, said Thursday."At this point, it's probably best just to focus on getting the best person we can for the president job starting in July," said Ruhnke. "We're eager to start that process."Despite mounting criticism about his leadership ability, the Higher Education Policy Commission unanimously approved the WVSU Board of Governors' recommendation to amend Carter's contract on Wednesday so he can stay on at the school as president emeritus until 2014 and continue to collect his full $167,444 a year salary."This concept of president emeritus is extremely fitting given President Carter's more than 20 years of service," said Brian Noland, chancellor of the HEPC, on Thursday. "It is extremely well-deserved and is something that you see at a number of institutions where you have a longstanding president with a legacy of service."
Carter, who previously said he would step down this summer, will transition into the role of president emeritus on July 1, 2012, and will serve until June 30, 2014. Under his new role, Carter will help the university fundraise, act as a spokesman, and help ease the transition for the new university president, said Noland.The Board of Governors will finalize the makeup of the presidential search committee in January, and hopes to find a new president to lead the school by July.In August, Carter announced he would resign as university president in 2012 -- one week after he received a vote of "no confidence" from a majority of WVSU's Faculty Senate.At the August meeting, Ruhnke said professors thought Carter's leadership had mired the university in "institutional stagnation" and blamed Carter for the school's precarious financial situation and flagging student enrollment. Two months ago, Carter also came under fire from the HEPC for overseeing the school's out-of-control hiring scheme and no "University-wide culture of financial discipline." "Across the institution, a combination of leadership failures, mission incongruence, lack of discipline, and underutilized technology have contributed to the university's weak financial position," Noland wrote in an October letter to Carter.To plug a multimillion-dollar hole in WVSU's budget, the school's Board of Governors cut $1.5 million from this year's budget and plans to cut an additional $2 million next year. Faculty layoffs are also on the horizon. Carter was not the only university president in the state to receive a vote of no confidence from faculty. In May 2008, West Virginia University's faculty gave President Mike Garrison a vote of no confidence over a scandal involving an unearned degree given to then-Gov. Joe Manchin's daughter. Garrison resigned a few weeks later, as calls for his ouster intensified both on and off the Morgantown campus. Reach Amy Julia Harris at email@example.com or 304-348-4814.