BRISTOL, Va. - Members of the King University family we talked to Friday say they are scared for the future of the school and their jobs.
Two faculty members were so concerned, they only agreed to talk if we could guarantee anonymity. "We really care for King and we see the potential this place has. It can be better," said one professor. "At some point we fear for our job, but at the same time, our conscience is clear. We want to do something that's right." Something, the same professor said, that would keep people from walking on eggshells.
"[There's an atmosphere of] intimidation, of fear, of toxicity. Everyone is holding their breath. No one is going above and beyond what they are doing these days. To say the right things and kowtow to the right people, and not question too much," said another faculty member we spoke to.
"Even though our sources are scared for retaliation, their love for the university is evident. But they want to see a change at the top," a faculty member said. "We're poised for a really great period of growth, rebirth and healing. But that healing cannot come, with the current leadership that we have."
King University junior Eric Wilkening tells us students notice that the faculty is worried. "When you look around and you see your professors afraid to say certain things, that affects your education directly. You aren't getting the full experience of discussion that can be extremely beneficial to education," said Wilkening.
University Senior Trevor Wentt said the student-teacher relationship is the reason he studies at King. "I see a lot of ways the faculty are being treated. And the faculty are the reason I stay at King. The faculty are a lot of the reason I continue to flourish at King," said Wentt.
School President Dr. Greg Jordan knows people aren't happy, but he said that it's just growing pains. "We've been very proactive in engaging this, speaking with students, faculty, alumni and trustees, all of which I think is very normal in this environment," said Jordan.
Faculty are worried that as the University transitions towards a greater emphasis on pre-professional programs, like nursing and information sciences, that the traditional liberal arts education the school is known for will go by the wayside. "There are a lot of valid questions and opportunities for serious exchange. But at the same time, misinformation is a key consideration and we'd like to address as many of those issues as we possibly can," said Jordan.
Some alumni are also concerned about King University, providing a statement to News 5 that said in part: "We as alumni are concerned with the general environment of fear and intimidation that President Greg Jordan has created on the King campus. This environment of fear and intimidation has adversely impacted students, but especially faculty."