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University of Richmond Faculty Votes No Confidence in Board Leader

April 14, 2021

Amid an ongoing debate over renaming two campus buildings, the University of Richmond Faculty Senate on Friday passed a vote of no confidence in Paul Queally, rector and member of the university’s Board of Trustees. The resolution also calls for Queally’s resignation.

The vote follows an earlier resolution criticizing Queally after he referred to students as Black, brown and “regular”; interrupted an African American faculty member during a meeting; and for some time refused to engage with students and employees about renaming the two buildings.

Faculty members charged that these and other actions put the university's reputation and good standing in jeopardy and that they demonstrate Queally failing to abide by his fiduciary duties as rector and member of the board.

“It has become clear that his leadership imperils the ability of the University to move forward in serving our students, furthering our educational mission, and expanding our stature in the higher education community,” the no-confidence resolution said.

Friday's resolution passed with 306 yes votes, 32 no votes and 14 abstentions.

The Board of Trustees in March announced it would not rename two campus buildings that bear the names of Reverend Robert Ryland, a co-founder of the university who was a slave owner, and Douglas Southall Freeman, an alumnus and former trustee who was also a segregationist and eugenicist. Weeks later, the board pressed pause on that decision.

The board released a statement Monday outlining details about a new commission it will form to establish guidelines for renaming campus buildings.

“Many members of the university community have recommended that we undertake a deliberate process to establish specific principles to guide decisions about renaming. This is a practice that numerous other institutions have successfully adopted. We fully agree that this is an essential next step for the University of Richmond,” the statement said.

Trustees Georgia Nugent, president of Illinois Wesleyan University, and John Roush, president emeritus of Centre College, will lead planning for the commission.

“The work of this commission will be inclusive and will ensure a fresh start with respect to considering renaming decisions at the University of Richmond,” the statement said.

Susan Quisenberry, vice rector of the board, sent a message to the Faculty Senate president Tuesday acknowledging the board received the no-confidence resolution. She pointed faculty members to the commission the board was creating. 

"While we respect the process, we have different views about the facts," the board's message said. "What we wish to convey is that we have listened carefully to faculty, staff, students, and alumni regarding the naming issue and other matters related to diversity and inclusion that have arisen in the course of discussions about the naming issue. Your voices are heard and respected, and they will be as we move forward."

Spokespeople for the University of Richmond did not comment on the faculty’s no-confidence vote. Queally did not respond to requests for comment.

This piece has been updated to include details about a Tuesday message the Board of Trustees sent to the Faculty Senate.

We have retired comments and introduced Letters to the Editor. Letters may be sent to [email protected].

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