Saturday, December 1, 2012

No Confidence???

So it is pretty widely known that the CSU Faculty Senate recently debated and voted on a motion of No Confidence brought against the President. This was not an action taken in a fit of pique. Rather it was the result of a sober, incisive analysis of a failed administration that has stumbled since a failed search yielded two ill-suited presidential candidates in 2009.Whether it was the mishandling of the Senior Thesis, declining enrollment, 75 audit findings in two years, or academic hirings that are being characterized as scandalous, the faculty, sans the regime apologists, have had enough.
One of the ways that faculty communicate their displeasure is through a vote of No Confidence. Though not binding on the governing body of the institution, in the Academy, it is a strong statement of the faculty in the behavior and/or performance of the administrator in question. Some faculties have voted no confidence in both the Provost and the President. No suggestion was ever raised in the debate about including the sitting Provost in this motion.
It is likely that the first vote of No Confidence in the British Parliament occurred in 1782 after news of the British defeat at Yorktown reached London. Dozens of college and university faculties have used the no confidence vote to communicate to the institution’s governing body that as a body it has lost confidence in the ability of the President to continue to manage the affairs of the university. In an academic context, there is no requirement to provide a reason for the vote. The instruments of faculty governance can simply vote. Faculty tend not to behave impulsively, especially in a matter as serious as a No Confidence vote.  There appears to be no standard procedure on how these votes are conducted. I can assure you that the Faculty Senate performed its due diligence in having verifiable evidence as its basis for action. Using the institutional mechanisms of its committee structure, the Senate conducted a performance evaluation of the President based on (and not limited to) criteria in his contract with the Board of Trustees. The full report is available at Subsequently, when a Senator raised concerns about the hiring process used to fill tenure track lines in an academic department, the Senate conducted a thorough investigation. There must have been irregularities in the hiring process because the Human Resources Department conducted its own investigation. Though the Senate report is publicly available in its entirety, the administration report has yet to be released. After both reports were made available to the Senate, the body voted to empower the Senate Executive Committee to draft a No Confidence motion for presentation to the body for debate and a vote. That debate was held at a regularly scheduled meeting. With 32 Senators voting, 28 voted in favor, 2 against with 2 abstentions. Part of the debate revolved around the timing of the vote, just prior to the arrival of the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accreditation team. A visit to the HLC website will provide a plethora of information on institutions whose faculty voted No Confidence and the institution was re-accredited. A university is highly unlikely to lose its accreditation due to a faculty No Confidence vote. It is likely to raise questions though. It may also lead to increased scrutiny through monitoring. Those questions deserve answers and if the faculty is not given the answers maybe the accrediting body can prompt some action on the part of the Board.
After the vote was conducted the Senate informed the administration of the vote and provided copies of the reports used by the Senate in its debate. The HLC accreditation team was also contacted so as not to blind side them should the issue have come up during the faculty session with the evaluators. Other external entities were contacted as dictated by the debate had by the Senate.
On a final note, there seems to be a belief held by a few that ‘dirty laundry’ shouldn’t be aired publicly. It is a ridiculous assertion as dirty laundry in private is still dirty laundry. Sometimes clean air and sunshine can cleanse dirty laundry. Keeping it in the dark only keeps it in need of laundering. Some uninformed faculty may be curious about what the ‘end game’ of the Senate action is. Sometimes, even in the Academy, or because it is the Academy, faculty do principled things, simply because it is the right thing to do. It may be difficult to understand if one is not experienced or is uninformed about the workings of a university.
Contrary to the want of some that CSU remain equivalent to a local high school, it is not. Thus its faculty behaved in the way that faculty at many universities behave.
And so the journey continues.......

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