James Madison University’s Faculty Senate has now passed a series of resolutions criticizing Provost Heather Coltman, including one last month in which it “condemns the culture of intimidation emanating from the provost’s office.”
That resolution said Coltman publicly demanded during a September Faculty Senate meeting, and in private, “the name(s) of the author(s) of ” an earlier Senate resolution and “further threatened to make the author(s) of the resolution subject to an investigation for libel and for breaching confidentiality rules related to a search.”
The Faculty Senate has passed four resolutions criticizing Coltman since January. That’s when the Virginia university held an event to mark the Holocaust—despite all the Jewish members of the planning committee resigning.
Among other issues, faculty members said the event was going to feature Coltman playing piano, something the prior year’s event committee rejected. She ultimately didn’t play this year after the community spoke up.
Last month’s resolution also says the Faculty Senate “condemns the provost, and those in the provost’s office with authority for organizing the content of the Holocaust remembrance event, for actions, and inaction, that marginalized JMU faculty of the Jewish faith.”
University president Jonathan R. Alger said in a statement, “My office and the Office of the Provost have received and reviewed the Faculty Senate resolutions. It’s time now to move forward in a respectful, harmonious and constructive manner. The provost has my support as we remain committed to shared governance and civil discourse, and to work productively with the Faculty Senate on a variety of issues.”
Coltman said in a statement that she has “continuously engaged in open and constructive conversations with Senate and faculty leaders, and [has] provided multiple responses on the particular questions raised. The concerns contained in these resolutions are being taken seriously, and we’ve already had productive and cordial conversations with Senate leaders about how to move forward. There are so many talented faculty members at JMU who are committed to their students, their scholarship and to the university.”