In the interest of a brief recap (because many do not understand why I would spend time on the career of the current president), we need to set the backstory of why this thread on Greiner is of immense importance.
The WLU faculty and its faculty senate sought to oust President Capehart and anyone connected to him at WLU, including professors. They did this for political, ideological and bigoted reasons. They also stated that they wanted to oust Capehart because of the financial situation at WLU. They believed that Capehart was the cause of many fiscal ills. The faculty then elected its own representative to chastise Capehart publicly, and this person bragged about saving money by not employing an hiring firm. He then stated that the fiscal foundation of the college was headed back to sound footing after Capehart left and the new president was hired.
Aside from the fact that WLU was not in fiscal trouble under Capehart—as we easily pointed out in prior posts—one would think that the faculty would vet the next president of WLU, hire someone who understood finances, and had a solid record of bringing colleges back to fiscal health.
They didn’t. In fact, apparently, the faculty and the faculty senate did not vet at all. The faculty alleged concerns for fiscal health and then placed false blame on Capehart for a fiscal problem that did not exist—until they complained to the press and attacked WLU themselves. That is the reason we are delving into the past of Stephen Greiner.
We expected to find a stellar record in Greiner, after all we were promised by the faculty and provost that they would right the wrongs. We haven’t. We found in our first post a lot of problems at BCC that included Greiner not being offered another contract. We found that the state of NC chastised his office for failure to balance the books. We also found, in a bit of irony, his relationship with the faculty was terrible.
Before Steven Greiner came to BCC and left under auspicious circumstances, he served as president at Virginia Intermont College from 2001-2005. Prior to the job in Virginia, he served as VP for academic affairs at the University of Evansville from 1995-2001. His entire time as its head was fraught with budgetary and enrollment declines and turmoil. Though its enrollment declines were not unheard of in the area, it’s declines were quite high comparatively to other colleges in the state and region: CUA was down, but not that much.
In a soon to be released book on the history and demise of VIC, an author writes this:
Dr. Stephen Greiner served as president from 2001 until 2005. The Culinary Arts program began in 2002, with Chef Richard Erskine as director. In 2004 Pal Barger gave [it over to] the Skoby’s restaurant in Kingsport, Tennessee and launched the Red Blanket Bakery and Cafe in Bristol.
The program was a disaster. Yet that did not stop Greiner in 2004 from doubling down his support for this expensive and unsuccessful endeavor before he left VIC:
Dr. Greiner, president of Virginia Intermont College, reported that bringing the culinary arts program to the Roanoke Valley is Virginia Intermont’s highest priority and best opportunity for expansion of the program. The program as it currently exists is self-supporting. The academic aspects have been separated from the operational aspects with respect to management and funding.
The soon to be released book has this to say, however:
Dr. Stephen Greiner was president from 2001until 2005.The financial problems increased during these four years. Enrollment increased with the addition of the culinary arts program and more athletic teams, but it did not help the financial problems. In fact these programs cost the school since these students paid very little tuition and Dr. Greiner raised very little money.The culinary arts program was eliminated in 2006
Culinary Arts was unsustainable and taxed the infrastructure of VIC even more than it was already taxed. He left the college in a worse fiscal position than when he assumed the helm in 2001.
It gets worse. The program was not even teaching the students the basics in Culinary arts, if this story is of any indication:
Virginia Intermont College will no longer head up a proposed two-year culinary arts school offered through the Roanoke Higher Education Center and housed in some historic buildings beside it on First Street.
The dilapidated buildings — the former Ebony Club and corner shops — mark a former black business district known as Henry Street, and they are being renovated for the culinary school.
But plans for a culinary school still are going forward here, only now Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke is heading them up.
Tom McKeon, executive director of the Higher Education Center, said Virginia Intermont’s decision came as a surprise, but Virginia Western was “willing to step up to the table and take the initiative.”
Rick Barger, interim director of the culinary arts school at Virginia Intermont, said his college halted its plans in Roanoke because it wanted to focus on expanding its program to Kingsport, Tenn.
Now headquartered at Skoby’s Restaurant, students can learn cooking techniques in a hands-on environment, Barger said.
So, NOW the students can get a hands on experience and the program can be removed out of dilapidated buildings. By the way, Skoby’s is now closed—What a disaster.
Greiner started an expensive two-year community college like culinary program at VIC at a time when VIC was in financial trouble. Enrollments at VIC were dropping rapidly and only temporarily stemmed, in part, by the new program. But, the fiscal health of the college was not good. According to faculty, he did nothing to stem the tide of these problems as president, and then he left the college. He failed to raise much money as president to save the college (which closed in 2014). Of all the criticisms, this failure leaves a sour taste in the mouth of many faculty at VIC. Longevity was not his concern, but a quick fix seemed to have been the motive—one that was unsustainable. One year after he left, the program that he claimed in 2004 was self funding, closed down. The press in Wilmington initially bought the line. In four short years, they would have a different view of things.
In a report on the culinary program after Greiner left, we find the fees the college paid to the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, were tens of thousands more than other colleges because of the new program. We get a sense from these reports that VIC—an historically liberal arts college—was becoming a technical school training students in technical matters—like cooking—rather than giving the students a broadly liberal education.
Why did not the faculty and the representatives on the hiring team notify the campus of this history? Where was the BOG representative’s outrage and promise to keep the college safe from fiscal mismanagement in the hiring of a new president?
WLU Faculty: why did you fail us and fail to live up to your stated duties to protect the college as you so publicly stated you would do during your public campaign against Capehart?
VIC closed down in 2014. Part of the responsibility for that lands on Stephen Greiner. At BCC, his next stop, we find many of the problems exacerbated at VIC followed to BCC. The Faculty and the faculty senate and staff, have utterly failed to protect the college.
Will WLU remain open given this track record?