(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Angry, uneasy, conflicted, sad is the way former and current faculty and staff at Missouri Western feel about president Matthew Wilson's resignation, it runs the spectrum.
"When I opened the email today and scrolled down to see that he was resigning, that's a heck of a thing to show up,” Former recreation sport management professor Linda Oakleaf said.
“You know it's always mixed emotions right? I clearly want to support anyone taking opportunities that are very good for them and based on the president's email this sounds like his dream opportunity and I respect that,” Political science professor and department chair Ed Taylor said.
The president leaving for his dream job at a university in Japan is great, and yet some faculty are still uneasy about the decision.
"We've gone through a major leadership transition and we’ve gone through a lot of changes and it would have been nice to continue with the same leadership through these changes,” Taylor said. “But I’m also very convinced that universities are not their presidents. Universities are students and our students have shown an immense amount of maturity and compassion and resilience as we’ve gone through all of these previous changes.”
Oakleaf used to teach at Missouri Western but she was let go this year as part of the millions of dollars in university cuts.
"Spend a year at an institution and then leave, for any president but then especially to show up and fire a quarter of the faculty and leave that's impressive you know,” Oakleaf said.
She planned to spend the rest of her career at Western, but the university had other plans.
“Nobody wants to lose their job, and nobody wants to lose their job in the middle of a global pandemic," Oakleaf said.
Voicing the frustration expressed by many that Wilson made big cuts left others holding the bag.
“People make decisions whatever they need to make for their families and I get that,” Oakleaf said. “I don't think it’s a choice that I would have made but who knows."
The university is facing many unknowns but what faculty and staff say they do know is that no matter what happens to the head, the heart hasn't changed.
“I think everyone needs to hear that,” Taylor said. “Yeah, change has happened but we are a strong institution with strong people and we will endure and we will thrive in the end.”
We reached out to other faculty memebers at Missouri Western with many of them saying it was too soon to speak.