Faculty senate talks bylaws, debates voting

Cassie Buchman, Administration Editor

Faculty Senate discussed bylaws and how they might affect the vote of confidence or no confidence at their meeting Tuesday in the Booth Library.

When the senate’s constitution was revised in spring, the senate took out a passage in the bylaws that defined those able to vote as Unit A faculty and chairs because they wanted Unit B faculty members to be counted as voters.

Grant Sterling, a philosophy professor, said it had come to his attention that it had been interpreted that anyone with faculty status would be able to vote, including administrators above the rank of department chair.

This includes deans, associate deans and other administrators who could be counted as faculty.

The implications of this and what it could mean for the current vote was talked about.

A concern brought up was the recent vote of confidence or no confidence in Blair Lord, the vice president of academic affairs and whether administrators had voted in it, as well as making sure Unit B faculty knew they could vote.

Gary Aylesworth said the people who originally signed the petition asking for the vote of confidence or no confidence were signing it with the understanding that it was a faculty vote.

“The understanding was that faculty meant Unit A, Unit B, faculty chairs and nobody else,” Aylesworth. “It looks like there’s been a bait and switch, whether someone intended it or not.”

Aylesworth said there was already distrust among faculty about the processes like voting and their transparency.

“This is just going to add fuel to the fire, it’s going to add to that mistrust, which is the heart of the issue that people are voting on,” Aylesworth said.

Jemmie Robertson, the Faculty Senate chair, said his understanding when he became aware of the issue was that it was affecting a very small number of administrators.

Sterling said he has seen occasions where administrators encourage each other to vote.

In his Provost’s report, Lord talked about the new interim dean of the College of Sciences to replace Dean Harold Ornes, who retired Oct. 31st.

His replacement will be the former dean Mary Anne Hanner.

Lord said he needed to find someone quickly for the rest of the semester.

Teshome Abebe, an economics professor, said Lord’s decision on who was replacing Ornes triggered some questions in his mind.

“The first one is, you couldn’t find anyone in the College of Sciences to trust for a month or two?” Abebe said. “What does that say about the college? Is there such a dearth of leadership in the College of Sciences?”

Abebe said Hanner had an unflattering opinion of faculty.

“You brought her back, and it’s a surprise to me, and it’s a surprise to some people in the College of Sciences,” Abebe said.

Abebe also suggested Lord include more people of color when considering who to appoint to positions.

Lord said he did not hire anyone in the College of Sciences, because they were in the middle of classes.

“To find somebody to come in who had time like that in the next six weeks, it did not appear possible after making a few discreet inquiries,” Lord said. “It was just for this term to handle that situation.”

Lord said he was not aware about things Hanner had said or not said in the past about faculty.

“I do know that she served for over 10 years,” Lord said.

Lord said he thought having her for the term would give them an opportunity to look to in the spring when schedules could be readjusted.


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