Faculty Senate approves motion of action

Cassie Buchman, Administration Editor

A vote on the faculty’s confidence in Blair Lord, the vice president of academic affairs, will go forward following a petition started by faculty members.

Faculty Senate is not sponsoring the vote of confidence or no confidence and are not telling faculty how to vote in either direction.

According to their constitution, 20 percent or more of the faculty who are able to vote in faculty elections can petition the senate to hold a referendum on a question.

The senate needs to hold the vote four weeks after it is brought up and the authors of the petition need to present the petition and explain the intended purpose of the referendum.

Physics professor James Conwell and philosophy professor Gary Aylesworth spoke about the petition at the senate meeting Tuesday.

Conwell said after he left the senate, several people approached him saying they needed to have an opinion on faculty governance and transparency.

“Many times Old Main is not going to ask us this opinion, so I think we should give it to them whether they want to hear this opinion or not,” Conwell said.

Conwell said this opinion was essentially on whether or not Lord has done a good job over the last 12 years and if they think he will do a good job in the future given the present circumstances.

“I’m of the opinion that there are many shortcomings as far as transparency, governance, his choice of deans, essentially administration of the admissions department,” Conwell said.

Conwell said when he asked how Lord allocated resources to his deans, he was not able to get a straightforward answer.

“If faculty governance is to be true, we must have a person who will shed light on how they make their decisions, what their values are,” Conwell said.

Aylesworth said he has seen support for doing this building.

“I thought it was important to stress the petition is not a vote,” Aylesworth said. “It’s just calling for a vote.”

What persuaded Aylesworth was talking to colleagues who are in what he calls the most vulnerable positions and seeing the difficulty they were in.

“They were put in a very bad situation and they felt that they had no say in it, no way to participate in the process,” Aylesworth said. “I don’t want to see any of my colleagues in that situation where they’re vulnerable, they’re under threat and they have no say. This is giving people a say.”

Jemmie Robertson, the faculty senate chair, offered the idea of having the vote in the first week of November during special elections in the fall.

Philosophy professor Grant Sterling said it was important to have a large voting turnout.

“Faculty senate definitely does not have to take a stand on whether faculty members should vote confidence or no confidence,” Sterling said.

Although they could debate the issue, they have not done that and it has not been suggested.

“I do think faculty senate should do everything they can to try to see to it that the turnout to the vote is high as possible,” Sterling said. “The worst thing that could happen is faculty send the results to the president, but only 30 percent of the faculty have voted.”

The senate received an email in support of Lord and expressing sadness at the proposed no-confidence vote on the senate agenda.

The senate also voted to approve to give political science professor Andrew McNitt access to the email listserv to ask faculty about Commitment to Excellence Scholarships.

McNitt said he wants to send people an email explaining why he is asking for money from them and tell them about progress towards fulfilling his goals.

“I realize this is not a good time, but it is never a good time in recent memory,” McNitt said.

Bailey Young, a history professor, said he did not think it is a bad time for the initiative.

“Here is an opportunity for the faculty and staff of this institution to stand up and show support for students at a time when they particularly need something,” Young said. “Because we’re being let down by the politicians.”

Student Body President Shirmeen Ahmad also came to the meeting and talked about senate participation in the It’s on Us Campaign.

The It’s On Us Campaign is a nationwide campaign about sexual assault making sure college campuses are proactive with the issue.

Ahmad brought up the ideas of making videos with faculty, administration, and staff and putting together a committee.

“When people see you guys are in this video, it shows our faculty is also committed to this campaign and this issue,” Ahmad said.

Ahmad said a faculty member could come to the committee with ideas and things they have seen, hear the other committee member’s ideas, and bring them back.


Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]