Kendall faculty: ‘No confidence’ in interim president

Kendall College of Art and Design during ArtPrize 2013.
Kendall College of Art and Design during ArtPrize 2013.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Faculty bodies at the Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids said Sunday they do not have confidence in the man chosen to temporarily replace their recently-resigned president.

David Rosen, who had been Kendall’s president for two years, resigned April 10. Neither he nor Kendall, nor Ferris State University — which owns Kendall — provided an explanation why.

Kendall College of Art and Design President David Rosen. (University courtesy photo)
(David Rosen. Kendall College courtesy photo)

Rosen is to be replaced in the interim by his predecessor Dr. Oliver Evans, who previously led Kendall for 18 years.

The Kendall College Senate, the faculty academic development body, and the Kendall Faculty Association, the faculty union, said in a Sunday release that they approved in a joint meeting “a vote of no confidence” for Evans.

“This is to indicate to the Ferris State University Administration that we do not want to take the same path as was followed during the 18 years of leadership under Dr. Evans,” the statement reads.

The group also approved a vote of no confidence for Vice President of Administration and Finance Sandra Davison-Wilson. The statement said she should be “relieved of duties immediately,” though it did not provide a reason.

Inside woodtv.com: Read the full statement from the College Senate and Faculty Association (pdf)

The group did approve a vote of confidence for Interim Dean M. Victoria Liptak.

“We want Dean Liptak to maintain the key leadership role within Kendall College of Art and Design … until the college successfully fills the primary leadership role of the president … through a national search,” the statement reads.

College Senate Chair Pat Constantine was emotional Thursday when she said many were “devastated” by Rosen leaving.

“He has done so many wonderful things for this school. We have really been progressing,” she said.

The Sunday joint statement from the College Senate and the Faculty Association said their votes of no confidence in Evans and Davison-Wilson, as well as their vote of confidence in Liptak, “support [their] wish to continue the current momentum of the institution.”

Kendall “Must continue to cultivate partnerships in the community that foster an unprecedented level of engagement. Doing so will allow [the college] to be a key force in driving a newly emerging regional creative economy,” the statement concluded.

Monday morning, the Ferris State Board of Trustees released a statement written by Chairman Gary Granger and University President David Eisler. It said:

On behalf of the Ferris State Board of Trustees and the University generally, we want to express in strong and unequivocal terms our support of Interim Kendall College of Arts and Design President Oliver Evans, and Vice President for Administration and Finance Sandra Davison-Wilson.

President Evans led KCAD for 18 years, during which the college merged with Ferris State University. In the 12 years he led KCAD as a college of Ferris, Dr. Evans oversaw enrollment growth that nearly tripled the student body; saw the opening of new student housing at The Lofts @ 5 Lyon; brought new and innovative degree programs to the college; began the mutually beneficial relationship with the city’s ArtPrize competition; and was instrumental in the public-private partnership that led to the renovation of what is now the Woodbridge N. Ferris Building. Simply put, it is not possible to see how Kendall College of Art and Design would be the thriving educational institution it is today without the leadership of Oliver Evans.

The same is true for Sandra Davison-Wilson. All of these projects that contributed to the building of the Kendall College of Art and Design we know today relied heavily on Davison-Wilson’s dedication and expertise. Her hard work facilitated these projects – especially the renovation of the Woodbridge N. Ferris Building. During times that were the toughest for Kendall financially, Davison-Wilson was the glue that helped hold the institution together.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Oliver Evans and Sandra Davison-Wilson will be key personnel during this time of transition at KCAD.

Additionally, we want to make it clear that there have been no other decisions made regarding the future of the existing leadership staff at Kendall, outside the resignation of Dr.
David Rosen, despite reports to the contrary.

When Ferris State University merged with Kendall College of Art and Design, the college was struggling financially. It had an enrollment of approximately 500 students who attended classes in one building that was in poor condition and lacked modern technology. Today, the college enrolls more than 1,400 students studying, living and creating in a vibrant, technologically sophisticated urban campus.

Having worked through plans for growth of the college together, the entire Ferris State Board of Trustees and University administration are fully aware of the contributions that President Evans and Vice-President Davison-Wilson have made over many, many years.

The relationship between Kendall and Ferris has made it possible for thousands more students to advance their creative and career skills. Faculty are critical to this process. We look forward to continuing and strengthening a partnership that has so successfully expanded opportunities for students and the communities we serve.

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