UT critic Knepper quits board

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 1

A University of Toledo trustee – one of only two who opposed Dr. Vik Kapoor’s selection as president – has resigned, citing a “loss of confidence in the leadership” of the board of trustees and the university.

“I find it increasingly difficult to be an effective and useful member of the board of trustees,” Jacqueline Knepper said in her letter of resignation, which was tendered yesterday and effective immediately.

Ms. Knepper, of Perrysburg, has served on possibly the three most important external boards at the university – the UT alumni association board, the UT Foundation board, and the UT board of trustees – continuously since 1979.

In her letter, Ms. Knepper wrote that her “loss of confidence in the leadership of this board – and my substantial philosophical differences with the management style of the current administration – have convinced me that this is the time to resign.”

Ms. Knepper, reached at home, said she wants her letter “to speak for itself.” But she said she made the decision after concluding that her input was not being valued on the board. “If I thought I was being effective and useful, I wouldn’t have resigned,” she said. “You have to be heard.”

Ms. Knepper has been in the minority on the board since November, 1998, when she voted against Dr. Kapoor. The vote was 5-2, with two trustees absent; Trustee Richard Glowacki and Ms. Knepper were the two no votes.

Mr. Glowacki, who lives in Florida, resigned from the board in January, 1999. He said that Ms. Knepper’s resignation is a sign of trouble at UT.

“It is a courageous act, because we all know how much she loves the University of Toledo faculty, staff, and students,” said Mr. Glowacki, who is a former president of the Ohio State Board of Education. “It does, however, call attention to the mess at the university.” Mr. Glowacki, who had chaired the presidential search committee that led to Dr. Kapoor’s selection, said that the administration has hurt faculty morale and the quality of the university’s academic programs. “It’s worse than I expected.”

University spokesman Joseph Brennan, speaking for the university and Dr. Kapoor, said only that “we appreciate her service to the university, and we wish her the best.”

Asked to respond to Ms. Knepper’s comments about poor management and leadership, Mr. Brennan said: “A cornerstone of representative democracy is the ability of people to take different positions and bring different perspectives, and each trustee is entitled to his or her own opinions.”

Rumors about Ms. Knepper’s resignation have circulated at UT since the Kapoor vote and Mr. Glowacki’s resignation, as it became clear that Ms. Knepper often differed with board president Ronald Langenderfer on issues.

In October, 1999, she was one of only two members of the board of trustees not to attend a social gathering at the steel plant owned by Mr. Langenderfer. She said at the time she was concerned that it may have been a violation of Ohio’s open meetings laws, which limit the circumstances under which a majority of board members may gather without providing public notice. Mr. Langenderfer said he had not seen Ms. Knepper’s resignation letter, but said the move did not surprise him. “The minutes of the board will tell you she’s never been supportive of this administration from day one. We thank her for her 71/2 years of service and we wish her well.”

Ms. Knepper is the wife of Judge Richard Knepper, who sits on Ohio’s 6th District Court of Appeals. She is a promotions manager for Buckeye CableSystem, which is owned by the same parent company as The Blade.

Last night, Ms. Knepper said she is not opposed to many of the administration’s initiatives. “There are a lot of good ideas that are circulating around the university now,” she said. “I’m not against change in any way. But there is a style issue when it comes to how you make the changes.”

Dr. Andy Jorgensen, a chemistry professor who has been a regular critic of the Kapoor administration, said the loss of Ms. Knepper is “saddening.”

She’s always been a strong supporter of UT as an institution,” he said. “She will be missed.”

Trustee Richard B. Stansley, Jr., said her departure is “unfortunate … I think she was a productive board member. In my mind, diversity on the board is a very healthy thing. There’s always room for a dissenting opinion. That’s what we’re all about. That’s why I think it will be a loss for the board.”