Faculty members on two campuses voted no confidence in administrators in recent days. Saying it opposed President Tom Rochon’s “autocratic” leadership style, the Ithaca College Faculty Council released the results of its faculty vote on Monday. Some 78 percent of voting, full-time continuing faculty expressed no confidence in their leader. The turnout rate was 87 percent.
“The number of faculty voters and the strength of its mandate are the culmination of months of deeply reflective, highly intellectual dialogue and organizing,” Mary Bentley, associate professor of health promotion and physical education, said in a statement. The vote is a “clear call to action for the college’s Board of Trustees to remove this president.”
Asma Barlas, a professor of politics at Ithaca, said Rochon’s troubles have been exacerbated by the recent student protests on campus regarding the racial climate. The president’s “so-called solutions to the current crisis have been too little, too late and hence, hopelessly ineffectual,” she said.
In a statement, Rochon said the faculty message and one sent by students in their own vote of no confidence last month “has been a difficult one to hear, but I am listening. I understand that many people on our campus are frustrated with the pace of change and with my own role in effecting it.”
Rochon said he remains “determined to improve Ithaca College's culture for the better, and that includes improving my own approach to collaborating with our faculty, staff and students. l am committed to working with every faculty member, every staff member and every student who desires to make Ithaca College a more welcoming and inclusive community. That is how I can best serve the college, and it will continue to be the focus of my efforts and attention.”
Tom Grape, chairman of the Board of Trustees, said the votes are “one way, along with the many interactions we’ve had on campus and by phone and email, for students and faculty to make their views known to us. We will brief the full Board of Trustees on everything we have learned, and we intend to share an update with the [Ithaca] community early in the spring semester.”
The Academic Senate at California State University at Chico also passed a resolution of no confidence regarding President Paul Zingg; Susan Elrod, interim vice provost; and Lori Hoffman, vice president for business and finance. “The executive leadership has failed to effectively manage the development and implementation of policies and personnel processes that concern the faculty and staff,” the resolution said.
Paula Selvester, a professor of education and member of the senate, said the resolution stems from a history of “instability and a dismissal of shared governance,” the Enterprise-Recordreported. “Over the years campuswide trust in our ability to share governing together has declined. … A widely held perception is that decisions are made without adequate consultation here on campus and therefore the quality of decision making has suffered.”
Ahead of the vote, administrators including Zingg emailed members of the faculty to express concern that the resolution lacked specificity, among other issues. Some faculty leaders at the meeting said they wanted more time to review the resolution, but it passed 24-8.
Via email, Joe Willis, a university spokesman, said that while “one senator said during debate that the vote was symbolic in nature, senior leadership at the university looks forward to discussing with the senate what the aims of the resolution are and what consequences are expected from it. In the new year, our provost will be working closely with deans, chairs, faculty and others on a budget allocation model that is responsive to our priorities and represents a commitment to shared governance.”
Part-time faculty members at Emerson College’s Los Angeles campus voted 16-0 to form a union affiliated with the American Association of University Professors, they announced Monday. The new bargaining unit has 22 members. Part-time faculty members at the college’s main campus in Boston already are represented by AAUP.
Full-time faculty members at Rutgers University at New Brunswick’s School of Arts and Sciences on Monday formally rejected aspects of the university’s $492,000 four-year deal with Academic Analytics, a proprietary database tracking faculty members’ productivity. Faculty members in a resolution said they want assurances that the data won’t be used in tenure and promotion or curricular decisions, and that they want access to their personal profiles. That’s partly because those faculty members who have seen their profiles say the data are wrong. Others object to the system on a philosophical level, saying the productivity algorithm doesn’t take into account teaching or service, and that it may dissuade professors -- especially junior faculty members -- from pursuing innovative research. The vote was 92-20. A university spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Katharine Hamilton, who became chairwoman of the College of DuPage's Board of Trustees earlier this year, resigned suddenly from the position on Sunday, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Hamilton, who cited "personal reasons" behind her decision, was credited as one of the people who challenged corruption at the college, particularly during former President Robert Breuder's tenure. Last year, Hamilton was censured for publicly criticizing Breuder and other trustees. She was first elected to the board in 2013 but became chair in April.
The community college, which is the largest in the state, remains under federal and state investigations related to administrative spending. The college came under scrutiny after awarding a $763,000 severance package to Breuder.
Citing state budget cuts and declining enrollment, officials at Western Illinois University said last week that they plan to eliminate 50 faculty positions, Northern Public Radio reported. Other cuts are planned as well. The faculty union is pledging to study the plans when they are released to be sure they are consistent with contracts.
A University of North Texas police officer fatally shot a student who we reportedly wielding an ax early Sunday. A statement from Neal Smatresk, the university's president, said the shooting took place when officers responded to a report that someone was knocking out car windows. The officer who shot the student said the student (not at the time known to be a student) "advanced on the officer" while wielding the ax. Smatresk's statement called the incident "tragic" and said the officer has been placed on administrative duty, pending an investigation.
The university statement did not identify the student, but The Dallas Morning News reported that he was Ryan McMillan, who turned 21 on Saturday.
The College of Saint Rose on Friday announced plans to eliminate the jobs of 23 faculty members -- some of them tenured -- and 27 academic programs. The college announcement said that the changes were needed to "reprioritize academic programs to meet the changing needs of students, increase enrollment and secure the college’s financial future." The college said it would be able, with these cuts, to make investments in other programs without hurting the institution's liberal arts mission.
Many faculty members are speaking out against the cuts, saying that the plan was made without sufficient faculty input and questioning the elimination of the jobs of tenured faculty members. (A Saint Rose spokesperson, asked about eliminating the jobs of tenured faculty members without declaring financial exigency, as is required by the American Association of University Professors, said that the cuts were consistent with provisions in the Faculty Handbook.)
The college said that it was eliminating programs with low enrollments, but faculty critics say liberal arts offerings are being gutted. Among the bachelor's degrees being eliminated are: American studies, economics, geology, philosophy, religious studies, sociology, and women's and gender studies. Petitions are circulating calling for the resignation of Carolyn Stefanco as president. A website called Saint Rose Anonymous features posts from those whose jobs or programs are being eliminated. Students and faculty members have been holding rallies against the cuts they feared would come, and on Friday vowed more protests.
Improved transfer pathways from community colleges to four-year institutions may be the best answer to America's college completion woes, say three influential groups that will prod states and colleges on transfer.