- Associated Press - Sunday, April 19, 2015

NAMPA, Idaho (AP) - The head of a small western Idaho Christian college has put on hold plans to lay off six people after the faculty took a vote of no confidence in him.

Northwest Nazarene University President David Alexander announced his decision in an email to staff on Saturday, saying the affected staff members can continue teaching while a panel reviews his budget changes, the Idaho Statesman reported (https://bit.ly/1OZRd9P ).

More than three-quarters of the faculty members cast votes of no confidence in Alexander last week. They said he did not consult faculty during a $1.3 million budget reshuffle.

Some critics assert that Thomas Oord, a tenured religion professor, was slated to lose his job because of theological differences with the university. Alexander, who has held his post since 2008, says it was not a consideration, but he apologized for the manner in which he handled the change.

Trustees, faculty, administrators and alumni will review the administration decisions around the budget shift, guided by an outside facilitator. Their report is expected to the board on June 15.

In his letter, Alexander acknowledged that he is a “hard charger” and asked the faculty’s forgiveness. “I have not adequately fostered a genuine culture of collaboration across the faculty with the administration,” he wrote. “For that I humbly apologize.”

The Rev. Ric Shewell, pastor at St. Paul’s Methodist Church in Idaho Falls, has sharply criticized NNU decisions regarding Oord online. Shewell attended NNU from 2002 to 2006 but had only one class from the professor.

“Alexander’s holding off layoffs for the review is absolutely the right step,” Shewell said. “And I think it acknowledges the faculty’s concerns and the concerns of the community at large.”

But bringing Oord to the point of layoff and then pulling back might make it difficult for the university to go ahead with layoffs later, Shewell said.

Northwest Nazarene University is a liberal arts school with more than 1,300 undergraduate and 700 graduate students.

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Information from: Idaho Statesman, https://www.idahostatesman.com

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