Faculty members at Tusculum College and Sullivan County Community College voted no confidence in their presidents last week, but few details are available on why they did so.
At Tusculum, a Presbyterian institution in Tennessee, the faculty called a special meeting and passed a vote of no confidence in the college’s president, Dolphus Henry. Thirty-three of the 80 faculty members voted in favor of the measure, while 25 voted against. Many others abstained or left the meeting early.
The vote occurred before a regularly scheduled meeting held over the weekend by Tusculum’s board, which immediately formed a task force of trustees and professors to study the situation.
“The faculty meeting was probably timed, frankly, so that this would come at the time of the trustees,” said Cameron Judd, director of communications.
A press release from the college stated that Thursday’s vote appears to be related to several changes in academic and administrative leadership at the over the past two years. Those changes include numerous departures of senior leaders from the Tusculum. The statement added that Ken Bowman, chairman of the Board of Trustees, said that Henry’s presidency will continue, and that faculty members who passed the no confidence vote have not requested leadership changes at the college.
Robert Davis, professor of biology and faculty moderator, did not return numerous e-mails and phone calls seeking a statement. Several other professors also declined comment.
The faculty union at Sullivan County Community College, in New York, passed a resolution of no confidence in its president, Mamie Howard-Golladay, the Board of Trustees and the administration in November, and -- having failed to see progress since then -- the union is going public with its expression of displeasure.
Ronald Bernthal, president of the college's Professional Staff Association -- which is affiliated with New York State United Teachers -- stated that since the administrators and the board refused to meet with the union to discuss the issues, the union will be speaking to its sponsors, the County of Sullivan and the State University of New York. However, according to the Board of Trustees, the union has yet to discuss the issues it believes are facing the university not only with the public, but also with the administration.
“I have no knowledge about the request that was made before the union passed this resolution,” said Phyllis Coombe, chairwoman of the Board of Trustees. Coombe said that there had been many meetings at which the union could have discussed the issues, but that its leaders have neglected to do so.
The resolution approved by the union said that the administration and trustees "have demonstrated their inability to cope with the fiscal and academic changes the college has been facing over the last eight years.” The union stated that certain policies at the college have “reduced the enrollment in the college to the point where the ability to continue is in jeopardy.” Union officials declined to elaborate.
Vern Lindquist, chair of liberal arts at the college, is a faculty member in the union who does not agree with the resolution. “Just because the union has decided to go through things this way, that doesn’t mean the entire faculty feels the same,” said Lindquist. He wants to meet with the administration and try to obtain a “better seat at the table.”
The board has issued a statement backing Howard-Golladay. A press release said that she has provided effective leadership and secured over $10 million in outside funding to improve the campus.