LarkinPres

Dr. Willie Larkin (Courtesy Photo)

It has been less than a year since Dr. Willie Larkin left his post as chief of staff to the president at Baltimore’s Morgan State University to become president of Louisiana’s Grambling State University. But it appears that in the short time he has been at Grambling State, the Faculty Senate feels he has not done enough to address the dire concerns facing the beleaguered institution.

Earlier this month, the Senate Faculty passed a resolution of “no confidence” in Larkin by a 10-7 vote with one abstention.

The vote is one of the latest paragraphs in a growing saga of falling enrollment, crumbling programs and a looming budgetary crisis that threatens to siphon away even more life-blood from the already-ailing institution.

In a five-page letter to faculty, obtained by HBCU Digest, Senate President Herbert Simmons Jr. outlined the reasons for the vote. Though the school’s budgetary concerns and academic concerns may not have been Larkin’s fault, Simmons said, some faculty questioned his handling of those problems and said he had not done enough to respond to or engage professors in finding solutions.

“Grambling’s current administration appears to be groping in the dark and tinkering with small expedients,” Simmons wrote. “ Grambling can no longer afford untested, inexperienced pilots who engage in delegating authority to elude and/or escape being fully accountable and responsible. Nor can we watch as they ever so slowly re-arrange the deck chairs.

“With deep regrets and to this date we have yet to receive any clear indication or any decisive plans of action informing us as to where the administration is taking the university and how it intends to solve or address the looming financial dilemmas,” he added. “We have yet to receive any plausible information regarding resource development, physical plant upgrades, and an overall visionary approach and plan of action for the university. We have received no response concerning plans to provide a scholarly approach to examining and developing new and needed academic program offerings, efforts to address the deficiency in student financial aid, a genuine discussion of shared governance, the need for specialized programs to enhance the effectiveness of training and the quality of learning; commercial ventures and activities that could transform Grambling into a more effective, less stressed and financially burdened public service agency.”

In January, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced a mid-year budget reduction of $262 million to all state agencies, including a $2.51 million cut in Grambling’s funds.  Falling enrollment at all the state’s HBCUs due to rising out-of-pocket tuition costs further undercut Grambling’s financial well-being, Larkin pointed out in a letter to the university community.

And there were other woes. In June 2015, the Louisiana State Board of Nursing essentially shut down the school’s undergraduate program in nursing, and in August, Larkin declared a state of financial exigency. The move would allow Larkin to terminate members of the nursing faculty.

Larkin also suspended the school’s nationwide search for an athletic director. And, when asked at a recent town hall meeting about what would be done to bolster the struggling athletics department – which serves 300 student athletes – the president said there simply was not any funds available, according to The News Star.