President Mellichamp Retires; Faculty Senate Calls for Interim President


James Mellichamp announced his retirement in an email sent June 20. // Photo Dr. James F. Mellichamp

Emma Marti, Editor-in-Chief

President James Mellichamp announced his retirement to the Piedmont community in an email sent on June 20. 

“It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve this institution for the last four decades,” Mellichamp said. “Together, we have expanded our physical footprint, athletic and residential programs, academic offerings, and reputation for educational excellence. We have taken Piedmont to heights that those who came before me could hardly imagine, and we have positioned this university for even greater things ahead.”

The Board of Trustees will begin searching for Piedmont’s new President immediately, but until a successor is named, Mellichamp may remain President. 

On June 20, the Faculty Senate released a statement, asking for the Board of Trustees to immediately remove Mellichamp and appoint an interim President instead of allowing Mellichamp to remain in office. They cited their resolution approved by the majority of the faculty at their May assembly. 

Mellichamp announced his retirement amidst various controversies surrounding the college, such as budget cuts leading to layoffs, and faculty and staff resignations. More than 20 full-time faculty members will not be returning to Piedmont for the 2022-23 school year, including religion professor Carson Webb, who announced his resignation last week for what he said was “unethical leadership.”

“I can no longer in good conscience be a part of [Piedmont],” Webb wrote in a resignation letter addressed to colleagues. “Piedmont’s senior leadership has debased Piedmont’s history, its students, its faculty … and I find it embarrassing.”

Last month, a “vote of no confidence” in Mellichamp’s leadership was passed by the Faculty Senate on May 9. Despite receiving this vote of no confidence, Mellichamp remained in office due to the support of Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Gus Arrendale.

“The Board has complete confidence in President Mellichamp’s ability to continue leading this institution forward for years to come,” Arrendale wrote in a letter to faculty and staff on May 11, citing numerous accomplishments under Mellichamp’s leadership including new construction, increased enrollment and improved national rankings.

The situation appeared to spiral out of control on June 8, when now-former Piedmont University Senior Vice President and Provost Dan Silber sent out his letter of resignation to colleagues. He stated, “My resignation is in protest to the 2023 budget decision expected to be passed by the Board of Trustees’ Executive Committee to institute additional faculty cuts.” 

Silber said it was “morally wrong” to lay off faculty members over the summer, “because it does not provide faculty members anywhere close to a reasonable time frame to obtain employment elsewhere.”

According to numerous press reports, within an hour of Silber sending his letter of resignation, the email was removed from Piedmont’s servers.

Until a replacement for Silber is found, Mellichamp announced that Dr. Steve Nimmo will be the interim Vice President for Academic Affairs. 

Both Silber and Webb cited that one of the reasons for their resignations was the actions of Vice President of Administration and Finance Brant Wright, who Webb said was “orchestrating faculty layoffs behind the backs of senior leadership.”

“The failure to engage in timely discussion within Piedmont’s central administration is ultimately the fault of Mr. Wright,” Silber said. “His lack of transparency is what prevented us from sitting down at the table much earlier to try to find different approaches to the budget crisis and resulted in a very late June decision.”

In reaction to the news of Mellichamp’s announcement, sophomore psychology major Morgan Cooper, said, “This feels like a scapegoat type of move to take attention off of the allegations and budget cuts to direct attention towards something else. Since President Mellichamp has served as President for a while, it feels like an appropriate move.” 

“Mellichamp leaving was inevitable,” said senior biology major Veronica Renteria. “Since I chose Piedmont and started school here in 2018, I’ve never heard of anything good coming from him. I knew his time was coming.” 


We know that this news may come as a shock to the Piedmont community. To all the students considering attending Piedmont, and the families of those students, it is important to remember that Piedmont University has made some great progress throughout the years, despite adversities. Piedmont has been able to grow, and facilitate the growth of students, for the past 125 years, with no signs of stopping with the upcoming 2022-2023 freshman class.