Officials Seek Ouster Of West Virginia State Univ. President

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Less than a year into her tenure, members of West Virginia State University president's senior Cabinet are seeking her removal, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.

The request was made last week in a letter to the school’s Board of Governors expressing “no confidence” in President Nicole Pride, the first woman to lead the historically Black school since its founding in 1891.

The letter, obtained by the newspaper from an anonymous source, was signed by the university’s provost, general counsel and top financial official, along with its vice president overseeing university advancement and its vice president overseeing research and public service. That’s more than half of the members of Pride’s senior Cabinet, according to the university’s website.

Pride didn’t grant an interview request from the newspaper on Wednesday.

The Cabinet members in their letter complained of “condescending and abusive dialogue" by Pride and “retaliatory practices.”

“Her harassing dialogue and bullying behavior have contributed to a ‘hostile work environment,'" the letter states. "Her executive leadership team has continued to dwindle as a result of a psychologically unsafe and chaotic work environment.”

Board Chairman Chuck Jones said on Wednesday that “the board takes the letter seriously and we are inquiring about it. We’re doing an investigation.” But he said of Pride, “absolutely, she’s still the president.”

The letter comes as the university struggles with its enrollment and finances.

The university paid $85,000 for the search that ended in hiring Pride, who had been the vice provost for academic strategy and operations at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

Jones previously said the search firm would waive the $85,000 fee to redo the search if the new president left during his or her first year. Her first day was Sept. 1, 2020. The school did not immediately respond to a request from the newspaper about additional expenses from the search.