This story was updated at 6:05 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 24 to include comment from current AU faculty senate president, Dan McDonald.
ASHLAND – The Ashland University board of trustees has unanimously voted to extend President Carlos Campo's contract through May 31, 2024.
The announcement comes after the AU Faculty Senate issued a 34-1 no-confidence vote against Campo on May 15.
At that time, Diane Bonfiglio, who served as senate president through August 2020 when her term expired, said Campo, "repeatedly demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to collaborate with the faculty, communicate with the faculty, or foster an atmosphere of trust and respect."
The group called on the board of trustees to seek new executive leadership.
Instead, the board reaffirmed its support of Campo a few days later.
In a Thursday press release, the board of trustees continued to display support for Campo, who began his term as the college's 30th president on June 1, 2015. His contract was extended through May 31, 2020.
“The board of trustees is grateful for the leadership of Dr. Campo during the last five years,” said board of trustees chair Jim Hess in a press release. “Dr. Campo has moved Ashland University forward through challenging times. We fully expect he will continue to lead the university in providing a transformative educational experience for all students.”
The faculty senate has not changed its position since May either.
"The faculty senate clearly communicated that there is no confidence in the president, and there has been no official change to that position. Faculty arrived at this vote with immense seriousness, having exhausted all other options," said current AU faculty senate president Dan McDonald. "Though it is frustrating and regretful that the decision to extend the president’s contract was made devoid of any official comprehensive assessment of the president and without consulting faculty in any way, we understand that the decision to do so ultimately rests with the board of trustees."
During Campo's past five years with AU, he said the college established the largest correctional education program in the nation, saw the reaccreditation and the creation of a Center for Addiction Studies and most recently, added the Military and Veterans Resource Center to the campus.
"AU had a number of challenges in 2015, but the primary one was financial," Campo said. "We had significant debt that needed to be restructured, and significant budget shortfalls. In addition, we lacked a strategic plan and a clear vision for the future.
"We were able to restructure our debt, and establish a plan for repayment. We also devised a strategic plan, significantly improved fundraising, and set new highs for graduation and retention rates."
Prior to coming to AU, Campo had worked as an educational consultant for the Gates Foundation and served as chair of the Alliance for Hispanic Education for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership. Campo also previously served as first as chief academic officer and provost and later president of Regent University and was chief academic officer and dean of the College of Arts and Letters at the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas.
"We came to Ashland University because of its mission, and we have stayed for the same reason. In an era when many universities have abandoned “whole person education,” AU has remained true to its founding," Campo said. "Our slogan, that we are “Teaching students how to think, not what to think,” is more relevant than ever. We have also been blessed by our students, board members, faculty, staff and the many friends we have made in our church community and beyond."
He thanked the board of trustees for their support, as well as the leadership team, friends, family and donors.
"Our vision for the future is to strengthen all existing programs while fostering new, exciting programs as well. We will enhance our residential experience, but also expand our correctional education program as part of a strategy to reach more adult and 'non-traditional' students," Campo said. "Our reputation for outstanding athletics will continue to be a part of our future, and we will continue to emphasize our first-rate professional programs bolstered by a strong liberal arts core and world-class Ashbrook Scholars program.
"Moreover, in a world of higher education where 'group-think' and intolerance grows simultaneously, we will emphasize our commitment to freedom of expression and determination that a culture of respect and intellectual diversity is foundational to a great education."